A dazzling debut collection which, deftly and urgently, tells the stories of those living in the biggest and most complicated country on earth.
A brother competes for gaming glory while his twin sister exposes the dark side of the Communist government on her underground blog; a worker at a government call centre is alarmed one day to find herself speaking to a former lover; a delicious new fruit arrives at the neighbourhood market and the locals find it starts to affect their lives in ways they could never have imagined; and a young woman's dreams of making it big in Shanghai are stalled when she finds herself working as a florist.
These are just some of the myriad lives to be evoked in The Land of Big Numbers, a collection of stories which - sometimes playfully, sometimes darkly - draws back the curtain on the realities of modern China and unveils a cast of characters as rich and complicated as any in world literature. With virtuosic brilliance, Te-ping Chen sheds light on a country much talked about but little understood and announces the birth of a bright new star in the literary firmament.
“A spectacular work, comic, timely, profound. Te-Ping Chen has a superb eye for detail in a China where transformation occurs simultaneously too fast and too slow for lives in pursuit of meaning in a brave new world. Her characters are achingly alive. It’s rare to read a collection so satisfying, where every story adds to a gripping and intricate world.” Madeleine Thien, author of the Booker-shortlisted Do Not Say We Have Nothing
"Te-Ping Chen shows us how much life, loss, and quiet pleasure exists in the world, just out of view." Alexandra Kleeman
TE-PING CHEN's fiction has been published, or is forthcoming from, The New Yorker, Granta, Guernica, Tin House, and BOMB. She is a Wall Street Journal journalist based in Philadelphia. From 2014–2018, she was a Beijing-based correspondent for the paper covering politics, society, and human rights. Before that, she was a Hong Kong correspondent, covering the city's politics and pro-democracy movement. Prior to joining the Journal in 2012, she spent a year in China interviewing migrant workers as a Fulbright Fellow and worked as a China reporter for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in DC.
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