How Much Of These Hills Is Gold

How Much Of These Hills Is Gold
Image source: Google

Rating: 4.2/5

Author: C Pam Zhang

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Publishing Date: 7th April, 2020

Language: English

Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-age story, Western fiction

ISBN-10: 0525537201

ISBN-13: 978-0525537205

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 288

Cost: Rs. 581 (Paperback), Rs. 418.90 (Kindle Edition), Rs. 2112 (Hardcover)


How Much of These Hills is Gold tells an untold story of the arrival of Chinese-American immigrants to the US during the Gold Rush. It’s a novel about conflict between two siblings, carrying the body of their newly deceased father across a harsh landscape. With their father’s body on their backs, they roam an unforgiving landscape dotted with buffalo bones and tiger paw prints, searching for a place to give him a proper burial. The siblings must battle with their own memories, the illusion of the American Dream and each other.

How Much of These Hills is Gold is an epic debut novel about family and the search for both a home and a fortune.


The Novel is set during the Gold Rush, in a re-imagined American West.

In this debut novel, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape--trying not just to survive but to find a home. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the spectres 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.

The author blends mythical and fictional aspects very well, in adequate amounts. She talks about the cultural folklore and myths that immigrants and their families bring with them in their conflicts, struggle and search for identity, a sense of belonging and home, amidst their efforts to survive in the face of abuse, exploitation and relentless hostility to their presence.

The non-linear narrative is structured into four parts, stitching together the past, present and future of these Chinese-American siblings.

How Much of These Hills is Gold follows two newly orphaned children of immigrants, who are on the run, trying not just to survive but to find a home. The book is inspired by Zhang's childhood of moving around and reckons with the grief she experienced after losing her father when she was 22.

Zhang writes in a manner which is unforgettable, beautifully imagined storytelling, incorporating magical realism elements, complexities of family, commonality of the immigrant experience, the conflicts, the place of the culture and traditions of the home they have left, the battle in front of them, quest for a brand new individuality or identity, issues surrounding gender, race, and hostilities faced in the place that has now become home.

Milestones of the Book:

  • Longlisted For The 2020 Booker Prize
  • Longlisted For The 2020 Centre For Fiction First Novel Prize
  • National Bestseller
  • A GOOP Book Club Pick

About the Author:

Born in Beijing but mostly an artifact of the United States, C Pam Zhang has lived in thirteen cities and is still looking for home. She’s been awarded fellowships and scholarships from organizations including Bread Loaf, Tin House, Aspen Words and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work appears in Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Tin House and elsewhere.