Audiobook: “Land Of Big Numbers” by WSJ’s Te-Ping Chen

Posted By on June 8, 2022

LandOfBigNumbersAudioBookTe-Ping_ChenIn keeping with a previous book, I downloaded another book: “Land Of Big Numbers” by Te-Ping Chen. It is a collection of stories … on the “diverse and legion Chinese people” and according to a review, this book offers an “acute social insight” on Chinese history, their government, “and how all of that tumbled—messy, violently, but still beautifully—into the present.”

Currently, I’ve only listened up to track 4 of 13 of the “Lulu” story published in the The New Yorker and record for this HarperAudio book. The reader Eddy Lee does a great job of reading and it is interesting contemplating all the young Chinese people trying to circumvent China’s censors … and risking their future by resisting the CCP.

  “Land of Big Numbers” – 2 min 30 sec –> “Lulu taken by CCP”

I’ll keep listening and am looking forward to the stories from Fiona Rene, Matt Yang King, Christine Lakin, Katie Tang, Chris Naoki Lee.

They burst in through the door without warning and informed her, politely, that she should go with them. “The landlord must have given them the key,” she told me later, stunned. It was that particular detail, oddly, that seemed to haunt her.

It was midnight when Lulu called me from the police van to say that she was being taken away. “Tell our parents,” she said. “Please. I’m sorry.” Her voice broke, and I barely recognized her. She sounded like a child in a blizzard who’d lost her scarf. It was easier to think of that than to think of the alternative: Lulu, cuffed into a van and taken away by four men who sneered at her for being unmarried and living with her boyfriend, for trying to stir up trouble, for spreading rumors—a crime punishable by seven years’ imprisonment.

When they began interrogating her, it was worse. “Did you go to any of these places?” they kept asking. “Did you confirm any of these things yourself before spreading these rumors online?”

No, Lulu said. No.

“So you didn’t know if they were true, then.”

Later, they laid her on the ground and kicked and beat her. They didn’t fracture any bones, but I pictured her bones anyway, each individually absorbing every blow. Lulu would have known them all by heart: sternum, tibia, floating rib.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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