READ THIS NOW! amazing

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"Land of Big Numbers" is an excellent collection of short stories from Te-Ping Chen. Set in China and the U. S., the stories center on lower middle class people who lead lives of quiet - almost - desperation. The settings are mainly malls, apartment blocks, and office towers in the new China, with most of the characters one generation removed from more traditional villages and ways of life.

The author presents the characters' small victories, defeats, compromises, and struggles with sympathy, allowing their dignity to show. Her writing is sharp, and her observations keen and insightful. The stories are a pleasure to read.

Some of the stories struck me as somber, telling the stories of marginalized and anonymous characters living on the fringes of a society predominantly dedicated to "progress" in the form of economic development and the accumulation of wealth. In that sense, the stories say as much about life in America as about life in China.