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A Map for the Missing: Book summary and reviews of A Map for the Missing by Belinda Huijuan Tang

A Map for the Missing

A Novel

by Belinda Huijuan Tang

A Map for the Missing by Belinda Huijuan Tang X
A Map for the Missing by Belinda Huijuan Tang
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  • Published Aug 2022
    400 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

An epic, mesmerizing debut novel set against a rapidly changing post–Cultural Revolution China, A Map for the Missing reckons with the costs of pursuing one's dreams and the lives we leave behind.

Tang Yitian has been living in America for almost a decade when he receives an urgent phone call from his mother: his father has disappeared from the family's rural village in China. Though they have been estranged for years, Yitian promises to come home.

When Yitian attempts to piece together what may have happened, he struggles to navigate China's impenetrable bureaucracy as an outsider, and his mother's evasiveness only deepens the mystery. So he seeks out a childhood friend who may be in a position to help: Tian Hanwen, the only other person who shared Yitian's desire to pursue a life of knowledge. As a teenager, Hanwen was "sent down" from Shanghai to Yitian's village as part of the country's rustication campaign. Young and in love, they dreamed of attending university in the city together. But when their plans resulted in a terrible tragedy, their paths diverged, and while Yitian ended up a professor in America, Hanwen was left behind, resigned to life as a midlevel bureaucrat's wealthy housewife.

Reuniting for the first time as adults, Yitian and Hanwen embark on the search for Yitian's father, all the while grappling with the past—who Yitian's father really was, and what might have been. Spanning the late 1970s to 1990s and moving effortlessly between rural provinces and big cities, A Map for the Missing is a deeply felt examination of family and forgiveness, and the meaning of home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In this spectacular debut, Tang places an everyman at the center of her narrative and traces his unease with himself and the larger world...A breathtaking portrait of the regret that can forever shape a life when someone helplessly sticks to the path of least resistance." - Booklist (starred review)

"[An] ambitious debut novel...Themes of family and forgiveness against the sweep of political foment inform this epic...There's a lot to absorb, but the narrative momentum keeps the reader engaged." - Kirkus Reviews

"[G]ripping...[T]he plot sometimes feels manufactured to produce moments of triumph and disaster. While the turns are easy to anticipate, Yitian and Hanwen's complex history makes this engrossing." - Publishers Weekly

"Splendid...It's astonishing that A Map for the Missing is Tang's debut novel...gripping from its first page to its last." - BookPage

"Belinda Huijuan Tang's debut novel is a beautifully drawn, sensitively rendered portrait of a man desperately searching for his father—and for reconnection to the past and people he once knew and loved. Both rich in historical detail and timeless in scope, A Map for the Missing explores the costs of choosing your own path, whether what's left behind can ever be retrieved, and whether it is possible to forgive the wounds we inevitably inflict on each other." - Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

"A Map for the Missing is a propulsive, lush novel that pulled me in from the first page and never let go. At once heartbreaking and hopeful, Belinda Huijuan Tang's epic debut takes us on a man's desperate search to reconnect with what he's lost, to rediscover what he's forgotten. I loved this novel." - Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek

"Exquisite and precise, A Map for the Missing tracks two lovers, pulled across years and nations, who never stop longing for each other. It is stunning. Belinda Huijuan Tang crafts her story with all the tenderness, specificity, and vision of a god making a planet. The world she builds in these pages is one you won't ever want to leave." - Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth

This information about A Map for the Missing was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. 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 they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream 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

Belinda Huijuan Tang

Belinda Huijuan Tang is a 2021 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow and recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. She holds a BA from Stanford University and was a 2019 work-study fellow at the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She lived in China from 2016 to 2018 and, while there, received an MA from Peking University in Beijing. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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