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Nights When Nothing Happened
by Simon Han




Overview -
Named a Best Book of the Year by Time, The Washington Post, and Harper's Bazaar

"A tender, spiky family saga about love in all its mysterious incarnations." --Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and Birds of America

"Absolutely luminous . . . Weaves the transience of suburbia between the highs and lows of a family saga . . . Shocks, awes, and delights." --Bryan Washington, author of Memorial

From the outside, the Chengs seem like so-called model immigrants. Once Patty landed a tech job near Dallas, she and Liang grew secure enough to have a second child, and to send for their first from his grandparents back in China. Isn't this what they sacrificed so much for? But then little Annabel begins to sleepwalk at night, putting into motion a string of misunderstandings that not only threaten to set their community against them but force to the surface the secrets that have made them fear one another. How can a man make peace with the terrors of his past? How can a child regain trust in unconditional love? How can a family stop burying its history and forge a way through it, to a more honest intimacy?

Nights When Nothing Happened is gripping storytelling immersed in the crosscurrents that have reshaped the American landscape, from a prodigious new literary talent.

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More About Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han

 
 
 

Overview

Named a Best Book of the Year by Time, The Washington Post, and Harper's Bazaar

"A tender, spiky family saga about love in all its mysterious incarnations." --Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and Birds of America

"Absolutely luminous . . . Weaves the transience of suburbia between the highs and lows of a family saga . . . Shocks, awes, and delights." --Bryan Washington, author of Memorial

From the outside, the Chengs seem like so-called model immigrants. Once Patty landed a tech job near Dallas, she and Liang grew secure enough to have a second child, and to send for their first from his grandparents back in China. Isn't this what they sacrificed so much for? But then little Annabel begins to sleepwalk at night, putting into motion a string of misunderstandings that not only threaten to set their community against them but force to the surface the secrets that have made them fear one another. How can a man make peace with the terrors of his past? How can a child regain trust in unconditional love? How can a family stop burying its history and forge a way through it, to a more honest intimacy?

Nights When Nothing Happened is gripping storytelling immersed in the crosscurrents that have reshaped the American landscape, from a prodigious new literary talent.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780593086056
  • ISBN-10: 0593086058
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • Publish Date: November 2020
  • Page Count: 272
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Nights When Nothing Happened

Simon Han’s debut novel scrutinizes the American dream through the Chengs, who have recently emigrated from China. The family settles in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, where Patty works in semiconductors and Liang is a photographer. Their son, Jack, spends the first six years of his life in China, where his grandparents raise him until his parents are ready for him to join them in the United States. His sister, Annabel, is born in the U.S., and her relationship to China is abstract, as she has never been there but speaks Mandarin at home.

Things aren’t going particularly well with 5-year-old Annabel. At school, she’s practicing manipulation on a friend, and other parents are leery of her. When she begins sleepwalking, Jack deems himself her protector.

In Nights When Nothing Happened, Han explores all that can get lost in the spaces between people. A fateful Thanksgiving Day serves as the crux of the story, but the tale spans much further than that, back to the mysterious death of Liang’s mother when he was an infant, which has haunted him his whole life. While the book is driven more by characterization than by plot, Han delivers the few pivotal moments with such skill that they are jaw-droppers.

Han displays incredible range as a novelist, oscillating between honest, almost tangibly real scenes, opaque dreams and refractive memories. He portrays Annabel’s and Jack’s points of view with remarkable integrity, while Liang and Patty are both heartbreaking and heartwarming, doing their absolute best for their children while grappling with their pasts.

Han’s prose is vivid yet restrained, and his characters are multidimensional and alive. Emotionally resonant and packed with nuance, this is an exemplary debut novel.

 

BAM Customer Reviews