Drama, Short Stories

Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen

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I usually have a problematic relationship with short stories. It takes a lot for it to feel complete enough in those few pages that amount to a story. Given this background, I am usually wary of picking up a collection. Then again, the rewards on a good day weigh heavier, and I was really tempted by this one. The idea that these were based in China was one of the draws.
Unfortunately, these did not work for me. Most are well written, and they depict a life that seems only mildly different instead of vastly as promised by the blurb. Some of them briefly enter into magical realism but, for the most part, stick to the regular life of people caught into the trap of routine and mundane while being sometimes dangerous to their mind and body as well. The one that actually managed to make a mark was actually something touted as the usual, a story where people are trapped on a station for days on end where no visible walls are holding them in. This was interesting, believable, while sad. Many of the stories were unhappy, and I usually elaborate on individual ones, but I would end up saying the same thing for all of them this time around. It starts off well, but I did not like any of the endings and felt dissatisfied when setting them aside. It is a quick read which is a bonus. I would still recommend it to those on the lookout for short stories based in unlikely settings since it is not hard to read through them all. It is also the kind of content you can hold debates about at book clubs!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience (as is evident from my post)

Marija had a similar reaction to the book as well.

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