Land of Big Numbers: Book summary and reviews of Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen

Land of Big Numbers

by Te-Ping Chen

Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen X
Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen
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Book Summary

Gripping and compassionate, Land of Big Numbers traces the journeys of the diverse and legion Chinese people, their history, their government, and how all of that has tumbled - messily, violently, but still beautifully - into the present.

Cutting between clear-eyed realism and tongue-in-cheek magical realism, Chen's stories coalesce into a portrait of a people striving for openings where mobility is limited. Twins take radically different paths: one becomes a professional gamer, the other a political activist. A woman moves to the city to work at a government call center and is followed by her violent ex-boyfriend. A man is swept into the high-risk, high-reward temptations of China's volatile stock exchange. And a group of people sit, trapped for no reason, on a subway platform for months, waiting for official permission to leave.

With acute social insight, Te-Ping Chen layers years of experience reporting on the ground in China with incantatory prose in this taut, surprising debut, proving herself both a remarkable cultural critic and an astonishingly accomplished new literary voice.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Wall Street Journal correspondent Chen emerges as a fiction powerhouse, each of her 10 stories an immersive literary event...Traversing continents and cultures, moving effortlessly between China and the U.S., Chen deftly presents everyday lives that entertain, educate, and universally resonate." - Booklist (starred review)

"[A] strong debut...'Shanghai Murmur,' a melancholy vignette about a florist's fascination with a rich client, is the most psychologically complex in a collection where the characters can occasionally be one-dimensional. Still, Chen's sweeping collection comprises many small moments of beauty." - Publishers Weekly

"Told in a straightforward journalist's style, Chen's stories are filled with individuals facing hardships of varying degrees, with no happy endings to be found. She delves into the human psyche to ponder just how far individuals will go tolerate duress. Not light reading, but this collection may be of interest to those looking for book group titles addressing the challenges of finding success, happiness, love, and contentment." - Library Journal

"Gripping and illuminating, Land of Big Numbers offers intimate glimpses of the seductive power of state control: the Faustian bargaining it requires of its citizens, the landscapes and lives it forces them to discard in exchange for material prosperity. At the heart of Te-Ping Chen's remarkable debut lies a question all too relevant in 21st Century America: What is freedom?" - Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad and Manhattan Beach

"Immensely rewarding, from the first sentence to the last. Te-Ping Chen's writing is clear-eyed, pitch perfect, skillfully restrained and quietly powerful. I will be returning to these stories again, to enjoy them, be consoled by them, and marvel at them. An exceptional collection." - Charles Yu, author of the National Book Award-winner Interior Chinatown

"Te-Ping Chen's Land of Big Numbers is ripe with prose both sharp and beautiful. There is a rare brilliance and a feeling of necessity imbued in every word of these stories. At each story's end you feel wonderfully more awake, more connected and alive. This essential collection reminds us clearly that there is magic and violence all around us. This is a stunning debut." - Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black

This information about Land of Big Numbers shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Te-Ping Chen

Te-Ping Chen's fiction has been published in, or is forthcoming from, the New Yorker, Granta, Guernica, Tin House, and the Atlantic. A reporter with the Wall Street Journal, she was previously a correspondent for the paper in Beijing and Hong Kong. Prior to joining the Journal in 2012, she spent a year in China as a Fulbright fellow. She lives in Philadelphia.

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