Read With Them: How Much of These Hills is Gold
Released in April 2020, C Pan Zhang’s debut novel, How Much of These Hills is Gold might have easily been buried under the morass of COVID-19 news that was filling the public consciousness last spring. But, as with most things, the cream rises to the top in the literary world. It was not only listed as an Amazon Best Book upon its release, but also made the Notable Books of 2020 lists for both the Washington Post and the New York Times. With all the book’s accolades, it’s easy to see why it has become a must-read for Carmichael’s Community Book Club in Louisville. Today’s Transitions listened in on the discussion.
Why is this book so highly acclaimed?
Despite some of the more dreamlike worldbuilding in what is otherwise a work of historical fiction, Lucy and Sam, the two young Chinese immigrants at the center of the story, are very well-rounded and feel like they could have actually existed in the American West of the 19th century. Like real people, they are not always likeable, and they do not always make choices that we might agree with, but it is very easy to empathize with their struggle. While there have been a lot of stories about this moment in history, none have ever been told from the perspective of immigrants who are experiencing not only the hardships of that life, but also the racism that was so prevalent at that time.
What themes emerge through the book?
How Much of These Hills is Gold touches on so many ideas it is difficult to pin them all down. At its heart, it is a story about family, and the memories that hold us together, but there are also issues of poverty, sexual identity, and survival. Interestingly, we experience these ideas primarily through the perspective of children. Lucy and Sam are orphaned and trying to make their way in a world that is not easy for anyone, and certainly not for anyone who is not white and male. That makes this novel feel very fresh, and at times, even more devastating.
Join Carmichael’s Community Book Club!
Carmichael’s Community Book Club meets on the last Tuesday of every month at the Frankfort Avenue location. There is a new event space for book club meetings, author readings and other events, and Carmichael’s offers a discount on the book club book each month. The club is a welcoming community that loves new members and loves books!
What other Clubs are Reading:
By Vanessa Hutchison
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