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Book Review: Land of Big numbers

About the Book

In December 2020 I received an advanced readers copy of Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen. Chen is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and was a correspondent for the Journal in Beijing and Hong Kong. The Land of Big Numbers is her debut novel. It is a collection of short stories that take place in China and incorporate a number of interesting characters thrown into interesting scenarios.


The Land of Big Numbers is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and was released on February 2, 2021.


My Review 4/5

Land of Big Numbers is a well-written collection of clever short stories about the people of a country many of us westerners have little knowledge of. Each story peels back another layer of what it is like to live in China.


At first, the characters' lives sound similar to life in North America. Parents go to work, kids go to school and college, and teenagers go to spend their time at shopping centers. Then subtle details are mentioned that make the reader uncomfortable: the government monitoring social media posts, prisoners making Christmas lights to sell to the United States, ID cards that indicate who lives in what city. Chinese life is slowly and methodically unwrapped through these stories for the Western reader without the author revealing her intentions. Each story is written well, but the reader is left wondering, "do that many people in the world really live like this?"


If you would like to purchase this book, please do so through one of your local independent book stores or through bookshop.org, an online book retailer with a mission to financially support independent book stores.


Corey D. Evans received an advance readers copy of this book and was not financially compensated for his review


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