A unique perspective on a unique culture

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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?"