C PAM ZHANG online at Border Kitchen in The Hague

Photo by Gioia Zloczower

2nd March.

C Pam Zhang is an American writer whose debut novel How Much of These Hills is Gold was released in 2020, and was long-listed for the 2020 Booker Prize. Zhang was born in Beijing and moved to the United States when she was four years old. While growing up, she moved to ten new homes by the time she was eighteen. 

How Much of These Hills is Gold follows two recently orphaned children of immigrants on the run, trying not just to survive but to find a home. The novel is set against the twilight of the American gold rush. How Much of These Hills is Gold is inspired by Zhang’s childhood of moving homes often. It reckons with the grief she experienced after losing her father when she was twenty-two.

Comments on the book: 

“Outstanding.” —The Washington Post

“C Pam Zhang’s arresting, beautiful first novel is filled with myths of her own making as well as sorrows and joys.”  —The New York Times

“One of my favourite books in 2020” – Barack Obama

“Revolutionary . . . A visionary addition to American literature.” —Star Tribune

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.

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.