How Much of These Hills Is Gold
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.
“In post-Gold Rush California, a Chinese-American family struggles to make money to improve their lives. When bad things get even worse, 10 and 11-year old Lucy and Sam take off on a stolen horse and head east, living off the land. Sam takes off on her own, and Lucy ends up in a town but never feels really at home. The two sisters meet up again several years later and decide to try to fulfill their mother's dream—traveling to China where they might finally find Home. With lyrical style that cloaks the narrative of a chain of miserable events in a dream-like quality, Zhang's writing evokes the real sense of alienation that many immigrants and displaced people feel as they search for a place to belong. The writing is beautiful. Recommended.”Alice, Blue Willow Bookshop
“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
“Lucy and Sam are alone in a land that challenges their very existence. The night took their Ma then their Ba 3 years later. Left to bury their Ba and survive in the barren hills spotted with gold rushers and coal mines, Lucy and Sam must face their legacy and futures in the west. Zhang’s storytelling is reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s. Her character work is bewitching. Heck, she makes the landscape itself a character to be loved and feared. If you are looking for an immersive, literary marvel, then pick this book up.”Izzy, Off the Beaten Path
“If ever a book could be compared to a vegetable, this book is an onion. Starting from its center; a Chinese-American family is living and working in a mining town when teenagers Sam and Lucy have to leave when their father dies. Layers upon layers ensue with beautiful narration to tell the story of a family that spent their life searching for a place and a feeling to call HOME.”Nichole, The Yankee Bookshop
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 re-imagined 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.
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