“Land of Massive Numbers,” by Te-Ping Chen (Mariner Books)
A Chinese language tech firm lately made headlines for its use of “good” cushions in workplace chairs to watch its workers’ office efficiency. It’s the form of creepy surveillance you’d count on within the dystopian fiction of George Saunders — and now, the blazingly proficient newcomer Te-Ping Chen.
The daughter of Chinese language immigrants, Chen is a reporter for The Wall Avenue Journal who spent a number of years protecting Hong Kong and Beijing for the newspaper. In her debut story assortment, “Land of Massive Numbers,” she strikes effortlessly between the 2 nations, illuminating the lives of unusual, usually broken, individuals on either side of the Pacific.
A few of her characters are depicted as victims of the merciless situations of their society, whether or not it’s the totalitarian rule of Communist China or the rampant consumerism of capitalist America. Others are simply wounded souls.
In “Area Notes on a Marriage,” an American anthropologist with gauzy, romantic notions of China visits the dad and mom of her Chinese language husband, who has dedicated suicide, and learns horrible truths about each him and the federal government. In “Stunning Nation,” a Chinese language-born nurse in Tucson, Arizona, settles for a narcissistic, condescending American boyfriend as a result of she desires to begin a household and produce her dad and mom over from China.