April 2020 Indie Next List
“In the most inventive and fresh language I’ve seen in a long time, C Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills Is Gold, set during the American gold rush, tells the story of siblings Lucy and Sam as they wander the western expanse to give their father a proper burial. Zhang transforms the mythology of the American West and reclaims it through the eyes of first-generation Asian-Americans, tackling themes of race, immigration, and gender and creating a new narrative of a voice and people often left out of this pivotal historical period. Strange and surreal, this is a novel to read with care and gratitude.”
— Chris Alonso, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF NPR'S BEST BOOKS OF 2020
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE 2020 CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
WINNER OF THE ROSENTHAL FAMILY FOUNDATION AWARD, FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS
A NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION "5 UNDER 35" HONOREE
“Belongs on a shelf all of its own.” —NPR
“Outstanding.” —The Washington Post
“Revolutionary . . . A visionary addition to American literature.” —Star Tribune
An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape—trying not just to survive but to find a home.
Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.
Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and reimagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it’s about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.
About the Author
Born in Beijing but mostly an artifact of the United States, C Pam Zhang has lived in thirteen cities across four countries and is still looking for home. She’s been awarded support from Tin House, Bread Loaf, Aspen Words, and elsewhere, and currently lives in San Francisco.