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Summer Reading 2021: How Much of These Hills Is Gold

Why Aku picked How Much of These Hills Is Gold

Pam Zhang said this is a book she wishes she'd had as a young person: unapologetically written for queer and trans Asian Americans and people of color. Rather than reducing these groups to acronyms or monoliths, I'm excited to read a very specific story that's written for us. I'm also fascinated by the history of California, the prose is supposed to be amazing, and Pam is a funny, sharp person in real life so I want to get to know her mind more through fiction. Let's do it!

About How Much of These Hills Is Gold

How Much of These Hills Is Gold
by C Pam Zhang


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.

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. - Goodreads

[Seth Meyers interviews the author below!]

Through Zhang’s deep attention, the classic western is given a rich new shading as race, gender, sexual identity, poverty and pubescence come into epic, powerfully wrought journey, and it is refreshing to discover a new author of such grand scale, singular focus and blistering vision. - The Guardian

About the author

About the reader

  Aku Ammah-Tagoe, Dean of Equity and Inclusion

This is Aku's first summer read selection!