Siblings, Lucy and Sam, are left alone after their mother and father have both died. They had been living in a mining town in California in the mid-19th century. The story goes back and forth in time, revealing both the background to their migration as a family to America from their home in China, and the future they make for themselves.
“There’s no one like us here, Ma said sadly and Ba proudly. We come from across the ocean, she said. We’re the very first, he said. Special, he said.“
“Every soul in this territory knows the year a man pulled gold from the river and the whole country drew up into itself, too a breath and blew wagons out across the West. All your life you heard people say the story starts in ’48. And all your life when people told you this story, did you ever question why? They told it to shut you out. They told it to claim it, to make it theirs and not yours. They told it to say we came too late. Thieves, they called us. They said this land could never be our land.”~Quotes from “How Much of These Hills is Gold” by C. Pam Zhang
- The Guardian: “How Much of These Hills Is Gold is an impressive debut. Though sometimes weighed down by the sheer heft of its language and atmospherics, it rewards patient reading. The prose carries an airless, uniquely pungent flavour. By the end, it has built into an epic, powerfully wrought journey, and it is refreshing to discover a new author of such grand scale, singular focus and blistering vision.”
- New York Times: ““How Much of These Hills Is Gold” is an aching book, full of myths of Zhang’s making (including tigers that roam the Western hills) as well as joys, as well as sorrows. It’s violent and surprising and musical. Like Lucy and Sam, the novel wanders down byways and takes detours and chances. By journey’s end, you’re enriched and enlightened by the lives you have witnessed.”
- Kirkus: “Aesthetically arresting and a vital contribution to America’s conversation about itself.”