Synopses & Reviews
"Chen has one of the year's big debut books." Philadelphia Inquirer
"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.
"The masterful short fiction in this debut collection from a lauded journalist alchemizes her flair for reportage and a novelist's gift of intimate grandiosity, portraying modern China and its denizens as a people in transition." O, the Oprah Magazine, 20 Best Books of February
"As a Wall Street Journal correspondent, Chen lived longer in Beijing than anywhere except her U.S. hometown. Her stories in this collection, following various Chinese characters, consider the very big question of what freedom means. The answers may surprise Chen's fellow Americans." Washington Post
"Remarkable...Unfolds across the modern Chinese diaspora, pinballing between acutely observed realism and tragicomic magical realism...Each haunting, exquisitely crafted story poses powerful questions about freedom, disillusion, and cultural thought, firmly establishing Chen as an emerging visionary to watch." Esquire
About the Author
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.