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.
Zhang's extraordinary debut, a beautifully rendered family saga, centers on a pair of siblings, Lucy, 12, and Sam, 11, who are left orphaned in the wake of the American gold rush. When their father a former prospector and coal miner whom they call Ba dies after a short, hard life of toil and drink, Lucy and Sam want to bury him properly, according to Chinese burial traditions. This means two silver dollars to cover his eyes, but it's two silver dollars the two don't have. Clever Lucy attempts to appeal to the townspeople's sympathy, but it's hotheaded Sam, armed with their father's pistol, who understands that it takes force to make things happen. With their father's decomposing body, the pistol, and a stolen horse, Lucy and Sam disappear into the hills. As they search for a burial site and look forward to a future for themselves, Lucy and Sam reckon with how gold, ambition, and desire shaped the lives of both their Ba and their beautiful, beloved, and long-departed Ma, whose womanhood never dampened her hunger and ambition, and how that greed has been passed down to them. Gorgeously written and fearlessly imagined, Zhang's awe-inspiring novel introduces two indelible characters whose odyssey is as good as the gold they seek.
Beautiful, haunting and
This book has stayed with me since reading it a year ago. The characters are complex, interesting, and compelling. It’s a story with much beauty and much sadness, but Zhang’s storytelling is wonderful.