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Publisher's Summary

A Best Book of the Year: Barack Obama · NPR · The Washington Post · The Philadelphia Inquirer · Esquire · Kirkus Reviews · Chicago Public Library · Electric Literature 

Malala Yousafzai’s Fearless Book Club Pick for Literati 

"Dazzling...Riveting." (New York Times Book Review)

“Gripping and illuminating.... 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)

“Immensely rewarding, from the first sentence to the last.... An exceptional collection.” (Charles Yu)

A “stirring and brilliant” debut story collection, offering vivid portrayals of the men and women of modern China and its diaspora, “both love letter and sharp social criticism”, from a phenomenal new literary talent bringing great “insight from her years as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal” (Elle).

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.

©2021 Te-Ping Chen (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

Editor's Pick

From China with Love
China. Expansive, diverse, mystical, and truly a cultural force to be reckoned with. Te-Ping Chen’s Land of Big Numbers is, in her paraphrased words, a love letter to the country and its diaspora, but it certainly pulls no punches. In each of her poignant, finely crafted stories Chen confronts the political realities of the modern Chinese experience. Wavering between a spiritually precise magical realism and the cold, hard truth of everyday life, Land of Big Numbers tells big stories of the tragically mundane, the epic suffering inherent in the ordinary. We meet characters who bear the blunt end of policy head-on, characters who watch from a distance as their sisters and brothers are swallowed whole by an uncompromising system. But Chen never loses sight of the beauty at large, and as the stories coalesce they pinpoint a clear narrative of a people who share a spirit that is as fluid as it is indomitable. —[Michael D., Audible Editor]

What listeners say about Land of Big Numbers

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great collections.

I really enjoyed these short stories. The readers were good. I feel like this gave me better insight into the Chinese experience, specifically leave the phenomenally large numbers and varieties of experiences.

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  • AJ
  • 08-19-21

Delightful and wondrous

Delightfully unexpected magical realism in short stories that continue to rack at my brain. A fictional lens that uniquely portrays Chinese culture, politics, and society, all under the roof of beautifully elegant prose.

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Wow!

This is a book I will read again, and again! And think about in between

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A bit boring to me

I'm not sure why I picked this book. I did listen to all of it but was not impressed or inspired. Pick another book to read.