Incredible Collection

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Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen is a powerful collection of short stories. Within sentences of each née story, you are wrapped into important moments in the worlds of Chen’s characters—the new choices of college & adulthood in “Lulu,” a personal glitch in the monotony of a day job in “Hotline Girl,” the formation of a community stuck in a subway in “Gubeikou Spirit —the subtlest details building a whole world. Chen writes with beautiful prose, delicately unfolding each person to their simplest desires and motivations. Each story ends with a step into a future that does not look back. Somehow, Chen wrote a collection that moves forward together, thus it’s fitting the last story takes us to a train station. Focusing on the experiences of contemporary Chinese and Chinese American people, Chen weaves history, politics, culture and the complicated nature of choosing to fit in or be noticed into these narratives. Just as her characters are, it’s clear Chen is incredibly adept at studying people and understanding what drives their bravest moments and their most shameful retreats.