Hot Best Seller

A Map for the Missing

Availability: Ready to download

An epic, mesmerizing debut novel set against a rapidly changing post-Cultural Revolution China, A Map for the Missing reckons with the costs of pursuing one's dreams and the lives we leave behind Tang Yitian has been living in America for almost a decade when he receives an urgent phone call from his mother: his father has disappeared from the family's rural village in Chin An epic, mesmerizing debut novel set against a rapidly changing post-Cultural Revolution China, A Map for the Missing reckons with the costs of pursuing one's dreams and the lives we leave behind Tang Yitian has been living in America for almost a decade when he receives an urgent phone call from his mother: his father has disappeared from the family's rural village in China. Though they have been estranged for years, Yitian promises to come home. When Yitian attempts to piece together what may have happened, he struggles to navigate China's impenetrable bureaucracy as an outsider, and his mother's evasiveness only deepens the mystery. So he seeks out a childhood friend who may be in a position to help: Tian Hanwen, the only other person who shared Yitian's desire to pursue a life of knowledge. As a teenager, Hanwen was "sent down" from Shanghai to Yitian's village as part of the country's rustication campaign. Young and in love, they dreamed of attending university in the city together. But when their plans resulted in a terrible tragedy, their paths diverged, and while Yitian ended up a professor in America, Hanwen was left behind, resigned to life as a midlevel bureaucrat's wealthy housewife. Reuniting for the first time as adults, Yitian and Hanwen embark on the search for Yitian's father, all the while grappling with the past--who Yitian's father really was, and what might have been. Spanning the late 1970s to 1990s and moving effortlessly between rural provinces and big cities, A Map for the Missing is a deeply felt examination of family and forgiveness, and the meaning of home.


Compare

An epic, mesmerizing debut novel set against a rapidly changing post-Cultural Revolution China, A Map for the Missing reckons with the costs of pursuing one's dreams and the lives we leave behind Tang Yitian has been living in America for almost a decade when he receives an urgent phone call from his mother: his father has disappeared from the family's rural village in Chin An epic, mesmerizing debut novel set against a rapidly changing post-Cultural Revolution China, A Map for the Missing reckons with the costs of pursuing one's dreams and the lives we leave behind Tang Yitian has been living in America for almost a decade when he receives an urgent phone call from his mother: his father has disappeared from the family's rural village in China. Though they have been estranged for years, Yitian promises to come home. When Yitian attempts to piece together what may have happened, he struggles to navigate China's impenetrable bureaucracy as an outsider, and his mother's evasiveness only deepens the mystery. So he seeks out a childhood friend who may be in a position to help: Tian Hanwen, the only other person who shared Yitian's desire to pursue a life of knowledge. As a teenager, Hanwen was "sent down" from Shanghai to Yitian's village as part of the country's rustication campaign. Young and in love, they dreamed of attending university in the city together. But when their plans resulted in a terrible tragedy, their paths diverged, and while Yitian ended up a professor in America, Hanwen was left behind, resigned to life as a midlevel bureaucrat's wealthy housewife. Reuniting for the first time as adults, Yitian and Hanwen embark on the search for Yitian's father, all the while grappling with the past--who Yitian's father really was, and what might have been. Spanning the late 1970s to 1990s and moving effortlessly between rural provinces and big cities, A Map for the Missing is a deeply felt examination of family and forgiveness, and the meaning of home.

30 review for A Map for the Missing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook…..read by Austin Ku ……11 hours and 20 minutes Belinda Huijuan Tang’s debut novel is deeply readable…. …..and as an audiobook—the kind you listen to voraciously every chance you get. The kind you get lost in. It’s also the kind of book that — besides being a rather ambitious historical novel — rich-in-detail — it sure feels like a labor of love. The author encompasses cultural awareness—and cultural sensitivities with the most seamless—beautiful storytelling. Tang Yitian is a protagonist Audiobook…..read by Austin Ku ……11 hours and 20 minutes Belinda Huijuan Tang’s debut novel is deeply readable…. …..and as an audiobook—the kind you listen to voraciously every chance you get. The kind you get lost in. It’s also the kind of book that — besides being a rather ambitious historical novel — rich-in-detail — it sure feels like a labor of love. The author encompasses cultural awareness—and cultural sensitivities with the most seamless—beautiful storytelling. Tang Yitian is a protagonist I cared for right away. (really cared for this beautiful man a lot). The story begins in Palo Alto, California. It’s late afternoon. Yitian works as a professor in the math department (assumingely at Stanford University)…when he receives a phone call from his mother in China. She is so distraught and hysterical on the phone, it takes a few minutes for Yitian to comprehend what his mother was saying….. “Your father left home two days ago”. His father has disappeared from their rural village in China. Yitian’s wife, Molly, booked the plane flight for Yitian. …..(note) ….I never forgot about Molly, back in Palo Alto in their modest apartment, while Yitian was in China. Once Yitian returned to his childhood village—it became clear quickly that …. …..1. there was his father’s disappearance to deal with….(complicated and mysterious)… and …..2. the presence of his mother: (her solidity, her beliefs, stubbornness, rigidity). Besides searching for his father — we learn about the turbulent years Yitian experienced growing up. Memories resurfaced of how harsh — downright abusive — Yitian’s father treated him for being a ‘big shot scholar’ instead of working in the field in their village. It was no wonder father and son had not had any connection in years. Other memories surface: (childhood, teen, and young adult years) …..1.Grandfather’s close affection — stories — and lifetime influence on Yitian >> but friction between Yitian’s father and his Grandfather (basically - father/son and father/son abrasive relationships)… …..2. An old girlfriend, Tian Hanwen, surfaces (their passion for education, math, books, and each other) …..3. The death of Yitian’s older brother (fathers favorite) …..4. Historical turmoil in China during the Revolution and aftermath. It’s not easy to write this review—because nothing I’ve said - yet- (although factually truthful) — TOUCHES THE FEELINGS….. …..there is a lot going on — educational without being textbook scholarly dry … it’s wrapped in love, loss, home, identity, family love….and forgiveness…… It’s both a tale of serious ‘social/political’ history and serious ‘intimate/family’ history…..but it’s also much more (touching all our senses emotionally, cerebrally, and privately)…. The weaving of past and present day storytelling unfolds with an amazingly natural ease. Themes covered are loss, death, a little romance complicated intrigue, cultural traditions, exile, betrayal, amends…. I can’t recommend this enjoyable book more …. It’s compulsively — READER STIMULATING…..with beautiful s m o o t h captivating and compelling mesmerizing prose. VERY ENGROSSING!!! EMOTIONALLY PERSONALLY FELT!!! …..Tang Yitian is a sympathetic character that will stay with me — and many readers a long time after the book ends. SIGN ME TO READ Belinda Huijuan Tang’s next book!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A Map for the Missing follows Tang Yitian, a math professor living in America for almost a decade who receives an urgent phone call from his mother, telling Yitian that his father has disappeared. Yitian travels back to the rural village in China where he grew up to search for his father. There, he reaches out to his childhood friend Tian Hanwen, a woman who once shared his desire for an educated life. Through this journey Yitian grapples with his past, like the lack of acceptance he received fr A Map for the Missing follows Tang Yitian, a math professor living in America for almost a decade who receives an urgent phone call from his mother, telling Yitian that his father has disappeared. Yitian travels back to the rural village in China where he grew up to search for his father. There, he reaches out to his childhood friend Tian Hanwen, a woman who once shared his desire for an educated life. Through this journey Yitian grapples with his past, like the lack of acceptance he received from his father and why he and Hanwen fell out of touch. I liked this book and found its focus on the gaokao, China’s newly reinstated national college entrance exam in the 1970s, particularly compelling. Belinda Huijuan Tang does a nice job of portraying how class and gender shape who gets access to education and therefore more stable and secure lives. She also highlights how our parents’ and grandparents’ struggles affect our own, consciously and unconsciously. In the middle of reading this book I leaned toward giving it a three-star rating – at times the writing felt a little “tell” and not “show” and the emotionality of the book almost one-note in how depressing it was. The depressing tone is fair given that the events in the book are depressing, though I wanted a bit more variety. However, I enjoyed how Tang ended the book by subtlety yet explicitly showing Yitian and Hanwen’s growth, in their actions and in their realizations about themselves and their families. Overall, a solid read I would recommend to those interested in the book’s synopsis.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    4.5 stars Belinda Huijuan Tang’s debut novel A Map for the Missing is a moving story about family, forgiveness, identity, loss, and the weight of cultural expectations versus personal ambition. When we first meet Tang Yitian in 1993, he is a mathematics professor at an American university in California, where he has lived with his wife Mali for nearly a decade. One day, he receives a phone call from his mother, who still lives in their ancestral family village in China, informing him that 4.5 stars Belinda Huijuan Tang’s debut novel A Map for the Missing is a moving story about family, forgiveness, identity, loss, and the weight of cultural expectations versus personal ambition. When we first meet Tang Yitian in 1993, he is a mathematics professor at an American university in California, where he has lived with his wife Mali for nearly a decade. One day, he receives a phone call from his mother, who still lives in their ancestral family village in China, informing him that his father has mysteriously disappeared. Yitian is estranged from his father and as a result, he has not set foot in the village in 15 years — yet Yitian agrees to return to his child home home to help look for him. When he arrives in China however, he feels like a fish out of water and has no choice but to seek out the help of his childhood friend (and his first love), Tian Hanwen, who is now a housewife to a mid-level bureaucrat. Together, they begin the search for Yitian’s father, but along the way, they end up discovering truths about themselves and their families that change long-held perspectives about their lives. Through a narrative that switches back and forth between the 1970s and 1990s, we eventually learn the characters’ backstories and the link between their pasts that impact their lives in present day. It’s been awhile since I’ve come across a book that resonated with me on so many levels. Throughout the story, both Yitian and Hanwen struggle between pursuing their dreams and forging their own path in life versus following cultural expectations of filial piety that require them to fulfill their obligations to their families. This is a struggle that I’m intimately familiar with, which is why reading this book was quite an emotional experience for me. Reading about Yitian’s feelings of inadequacy in not being able to reconcile his ambitions and the trajectory of his life with his responsibilities toward his parents (regardless of how they treated him), I found myself nodding along in understanding and sympathy. I was also able to relate to his experience returning to his hometown after so many years away, and the unexpected culture shock that made it difficult for him to navigate a world that used to be familiar to him. This was actually one area that I felt the author did an especially great job with: conveying the unending struggle that immigrants like us have with reconciling the meaning of “home” and feeling like a “perpetual foreigner” in both worlds. There’s actually quite a bit to unpack with this novel — the themes of loss and forgiveness, reconciling past and present lives with future, social mores versus personal values, the price of ambition and trying to forge a better life for oneself versus the obligations of family and cultural inheritance — it’s impossible to cover all aspects in such a short review. With that said, I appreciate Tang’s realistic yet deeply nuanced portrayal that quite honestly continues to give me much food for thought even now, several days after having finished the book. This was an absolutely worthwhile read — one I definitely recommend. Of course, given the cultural elements, the experience reading this will probably be different for each person, but with the variety of themes it covers, I don’t think it will be difficult to find something relatable in the story. Received ARC from Penguin Press via NetGalley.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    “It was amazing…that an unchanging property of an object wasn’t only what was there, but also what wasn’t. It meant that if you could define what was absent, create a map for the missing, that was also a way of knowing a thing.” When Tang Yitian, a professor of mathematics in America, returns to his Chinese rural village to find his missing father, he must contend with the pieces of his life that have also remained maddingly obscured through the years. In creating a map of what is missing, debut w “It was amazing…that an unchanging property of an object wasn’t only what was there, but also what wasn’t. It meant that if you could define what was absent, create a map for the missing, that was also a way of knowing a thing.” When Tang Yitian, a professor of mathematics in America, returns to his Chinese rural village to find his missing father, he must contend with the pieces of his life that have also remained maddingly obscured through the years. In creating a map of what is missing, debut writer Belinda Huijan Tang has written a spellbinding book about memory and place and familial duty and finding one’s own path when the going isn’t easy. This is an astoundingly good book and I envy anyone who has yet to discover it. The author creates a world where the only ticket out of a confined and monotonous rural existence is the coveted gaokao – an exam that only a very small percentage of Chinese pass. Yitian, a country boy, has very little chance of passing while Hanwen, a sent-down Shanghai girl (a girl who is placed in the country’s rustication campaign after her mother fell out of favor with the Cultural Revolution) is far more likely to earn her escape route to a prized Chinese university. After the results are in, it is years before the two of them see each other again. As their trajectories intersect once more, the missing pieces becoming more glaring. We know that Yitian is estranged from his father – but why? What has happened to Hanwen in the interval? How do our past histories and memories converge with our current histories and realities and can we ever really go home again? At the end of the day, how do we reach forgiveness and open ourselves to receiving other’s gifts? Along the way, we gain exposure to the ancestral bonds that bind us at the same time that our future casts a narrow shining light. We learn about the post-Cultural Revolution in China, the unimaginable stress of passing the gaokao, the deeply-ingrained mores and values of Chinese life, and the bittersweetness of imaging how life could have been different. This is a wonderful novel, filled with humanity, rife with meaning, and deeply felt. It kept me enraptured from first page to last and will very likely make my personal Top Ten of 2022. I am indebted to Penguin Press for the privilege of being an early reader in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julia Phillips

    Precisely, exquisitely drawn; tender and specific. I kept thinking about my dad as I read – I want him to read it. A story about longing for what's lost and can't be recovered. Precisely, exquisitely drawn; tender and specific. I kept thinking about my dad as I read – I want him to read it. A story about longing for what's lost and can't be recovered.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elena L.

    [4.5/5 stars] Tang Yitian is a professor of mathematics who has been living in America for almost a decade. When he receives a call from his mother telling that his father has disappeared, he decides to return to the rural village in China, where his parents live, after fifteen years. In China, he grapples with the bureaucracy as an outsider, has a complicated relationship with his mother and encounters his childhood friend Tian Hanwen, who suffered from the consequence of Cultural Revolution. Spa [4.5/5 stars] Tang Yitian is a professor of mathematics who has been living in America for almost a decade. When he receives a call from his mother telling that his father has disappeared, he decides to return to the rural village in China, where his parents live, after fifteen years. In China, he grapples with the bureaucracy as an outsider, has a complicated relationship with his mother and encounters his childhood friend Tian Hanwen, who suffered from the consequence of Cultural Revolution. Spanning from late 1970s to 1990s and set against post-Cultural Revolution China, this novel evoked many emotions and I was thoroughly absorbed. Despite the messy relationship between Yitian and his father, there is an unreasonable tenderness about his father's memories that made me think of my own. Reunited for the first time as adults, I was unconsciously moved by Yitian and Hanwen's connection, which felt more than fate. Tang uses gao kao (高考) – an exam that only a very small percentage of Chinese pass - to reveal the costs of pursuing one's dream and what we are forced to leave behind (similar to gao kao, in Brazil we also have this difficult one exam per year when you try to get into a university. And these passages reminded me of my old days' struggles). What I loved most is how carefully the story unfolds - from Yitian's desire to fill the absences in his memory about family history to a way of wishing for the past back. Tang delivers in a sensitive way how one person can depend on the other for the sense of living. With neat writing and balanced pacing, I was also immersed in the character study often offered in the narrative. My small critique is that I wasn't entirely convinced by Yitian mother's motivation to lie, but this fact didn’t take away my overall enjoyment and reading experience. A MAP FOR THE MISSING is a beautiful story about family and forgiveness, loss and mental health, and the meaning of home. A deeply felt debut novel that will definitely make into my top 2022.

  7. 4 out of 5

    switterbug (Betsey)

    "It was amazing...that an unchanging property of an object wasn't only what was there, but also what wasn't. It meant that if you could define what was absent, create a map for the missing, that was also a way of knowing a thing." This elegiac story captures rural China during the Cultural Revolution (circa the 1970s) and continues on through the early 1990s in an ancient rural village of the Anhui province and also America. The narrative weaves the tale of two families, specifically the young fi "It was amazing...that an unchanging property of an object wasn't only what was there, but also what wasn't. It meant that if you could define what was absent, create a map for the missing, that was also a way of knowing a thing." This elegiac story captures rural China during the Cultural Revolution (circa the 1970s) and continues on through the early 1990s in an ancient rural village of the Anhui province and also America. The narrative weaves the tale of two families, specifically the young first love between a Chinese couple, Yitian and Hanwen, who hope for better things than farming or labor work. The epochal story alternates between time periods (mostly) from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and paints a vast but also confined landscape, and paints domestic dynamics that stem from a provincial upbringing. MAP is a sober tale depicting how cultural ignorance can destroy a family’s devotion to each other, from generation to generation. During the 1990s, Tang Yitian wants to put the ghosts of the past to rest, and perhaps turn regret into redemption. I don’t want to give spoilers, so I will just say that, after closing the book and reflecting on the themes and events, I felt sadness that such a simple, treatable human condition can rip apart the seams of family intimacy. Belinda Huijuan Tang gave a powerful portrait of both the ache and myopia resulting from lack of understanding, how knowledge deficits tore through love and erected walls between fathers and sons. Moreover, Chairman Mao’s rustication program of displacing people from Shanghai and other big cities to toil in rural areas added to the lack of agency that people felt at the time. Hanwen was one of those girls that came from Shanghai. Like Yitian (whose village she was sent to), she yearned for a higher education and successful job. Yitian and Hanwen met fortuitously while studying in the same secret place. They realized a spark of friendship together, and continued to meet up and study, reading and writing and discovering their feelings for one another. Both aimed to take the “gaokao,” a test not unlike the SAT tests in America, with ambitions to score high and go to university. We know from the opening pages that Yitian, in 1993, is a professor at a prestigious university in the U.S., married to a woman named Mali. His estranged father has gone missing from the Tang village that Yitian grew up in, and his mother begs him to come home to help find him. He hasn’t been home in a decade, and now has to face what he left behind. The title is apropos of the early plot details, but readers will also be piqued by the evolving narrative, which demonstrates the various ways that the title fits elegantly with the story. What else is missing, besides Yitian’s father? What tragedies broke up this family, and what happened to Hanwen’s dreams of success? How does history and ignorance play its part on familial bonds? Can we forgive what we may have destroyed? How do we emerge from buried tragedies? I frequently wanted to yank Yitian toward his past, back to the yawning future, to face and unlock his suppressed fears. It’s apparent that Yitian has difficulty living in the moment. Bliss remains at arm’s length, and his damaged spirit suffers from too much psychic damage control. He lacks the nascent spark that originated with his grandfather, who taught him the joy of reading and passion for history. The blessing of family has been replaced by the burden of sadness. But now, after all these years, Yitian is forced out of his tedium and dull comfort zone. He’s compelled to contact Hanwen to help him find his missing father. Seeing her again unearths the ghosts and shadows of his youth; this time, he cannot run away from his past, however turbulent and oppressive. Tang delivers a beautiful, aching story, and I’m impressed that this is her debut novel! Just a few complaints. The passive or conditional tense of the prose turned turbid at times. It figuratively—but also literarily--signified Yitian’s irresolute nature, which I appreciate. However, it also flattened my reading experience periodically, causing me to wander or grow restless on the page. It took me a while to feel liftoff. The plot turns were slow and ultimately predictable, but the power of the theme, of what damaged this family, truly made me gasp at the end. It would be a spoiler to reveal this nugget, which is the thread that connects the generations. I am a psychiatric nurse, and often work with children possessing certain challenges. Smart people can be left behind due to small offsets or differences, but a savvy adult can intervene and help them turn it around. I’ll leave it to the reader to discover the gaps in these generations, the missing pieces of the map. Thank you to Penguin Press and netgalley for offering me a digital copy prior to publishing. However, I ultimately waited util publishing date so I could read it in my preferred “language”---dead trees---the physicality of a book!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ming

    This was a very satisfying read.  The writing has a beautiful quality: subtle and sweeping.  And the storycrafting is careful and contributes well to both an overall lush feel and a pacing/momentum that grips one's attention. I'd readily recommend this title and read other works from this author. Tang may be a debut author but this title does not read like a debut book. The writing is confident and strong. I felt well cared for as a reader.  (And this came into question at times when various Roma This was a very satisfying read.  The writing has a beautiful quality: subtle and sweeping.  And the storycrafting is careful and contributes well to both an overall lush feel and a pacing/momentum that grips one's attention. I'd readily recommend this title and read other works from this author. Tang may be a debut author but this title does not read like a debut book. The writing is confident and strong. I felt well cared for as a reader.  (And this came into question at times when various Romanized Chinese words occurred or Chinese characters appear: both with no translation and only opaque contextual clues.  But I applaud such use of non-English words and non-Romanized script.  It's a simple but profound way to make a point: it may be illegible to some but it is so.  And it de-centers the Western gaze in a deep way.  I think it takes a very secure and self-assured writer to do this.) I note that the book depicted a very real bias (in PRC and in Asia in general) against people from the countryside or the village.  And then we see how the country police chief presses for a bribe and how country people line up to visit Yitian when he first returns to his parents' home.  These elements are accurately depicted by Tang and, for better or worse, explain why some of those biases are in place.  There is also a prevalent class bias in this story.  Much of the biases is embedded in the culture and belief systems, like Confucianism as well as, ironically, in Maoism. (Commentary: when I see references to "stop Asian hate" in the US, I often think about all the ways that Asians hate and some of the worst kind takes place in intragroup contexts.) Tang discloses many truisms, some were painful or embarrassing to see in print. Her reveal is not cruel but matter of fact. I respect her credibility and truthfulness. Credibility? She has intimate knowledge and straddles both a PRC insider's view and an American perspective/sensibilities. (In one scene, she delicately depicts the distance and differences between a Taiwanese immigrant colleague and Yitian, an immigrant from PRC. They only speak to each other in English and any pretense of being racial brethen is awkwardly avoided.) One more word about "credibility" -- while Tang does a lot of explaining in this book, it didn't feel like explaining (y'all know how I detest explaining). I tried to figure out why the various explanations felt organic but I couldn't discern how Tang managed to do so in such a smooth and unintrusive manner. (As an aside, I'm not sure how Yitian's parents could have two sons during PRC's one-child policy/law. But Yishou, the older brother, plays an important role in the family dynamics/drama.) A few quotes: (In PRC) He'd forgotten how much they cared about good manners in this world, allowing concerns of etiquette to overwhelm urgency and logic. ...When he lay in bed alone at night, he felt as if his body were missing its most important skin. ...When his father was home from the barracks, the two men passed food across the table in silence, slipped next to each other in the rooms of their home without so much as an acknowledgement, even their shadows barely crossing. ...For the rest of his life, he would only ever see glimpses of the two of them in the shapes they formed after an exit. Two articles: one about BHT, the other by her. https://www.npr.org/2022/08/12/111726... https://lithub.com/meeting-language-a... (One last aside: I am very cautious when I consider reading books set in the PRC and/or especially written by PRC authors. I find those titles to be both depressing (with no redeeming qualities) and flat.  The latter quality I can justify since I read Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping.  But the former issue, no matter what the cause or reason, is not something that works for me and I avoid such books.  Here, I couldn't determine if Tang was PRC born and raised (she only describes herself as "from San Jose, California").  But from reading this title, I conclude that she spent a significant amount of time in the US and thus this read was acceptable in my eyes.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    What a beautiful, moving novel that encompassed Chinese history, family relationships and forgiveness. This novel is set in China in the late 1970’s (before the Cultural Revolution) and in the 1990’s. The main character is a Chinese man (Yitian) who has emigrated to the US (where he is a math professor at a prestigious university in California). He is called back to rural China where he grew up because his father is missing. The story then shifts to rural China before the Cultural Revolution, wh What a beautiful, moving novel that encompassed Chinese history, family relationships and forgiveness. This novel is set in China in the late 1970’s (before the Cultural Revolution) and in the 1990’s. The main character is a Chinese man (Yitian) who has emigrated to the US (where he is a math professor at a prestigious university in California). He is called back to rural China where he grew up because his father is missing. The story then shifts to rural China before the Cultural Revolution, where we see wonderfully drawn scenes from Yitian’s childhood. The difficulty of the labor, the lack of food, the lack of education, and the deep reliance on family are well portrayed. We meet Hanwen, a young woman from Shanghai who was “sent down” to Yitian’s village. I had read before about the program under which young students were “sent down” to the countryside to perform manual labor because they came from intellectual or out of favor families. To say the least, they were unprepared. Then, for the first time since the Communist Revolution, young people are offered the ability to take a university admissions exam – for which Yitian and Hanwen study together. Yitian passes and goes to college, but in the process a tragic separation occurs between him and his rural laborer father as well as his brother. We follow Yitian through university in China and his move to the US. Hanwen takes a different journey through life, which involves degrading jobs and a loveless marriage to evade a life of urban poverty. Again, the scenes are interesting and informative. Beneath it all, Yitian struggles deeply with his own self-identification as well as the loss of his family in his life. In the end, there is some reconciliation and forgiveness. The reader is left with a better understanding of life in China during the time period covered – but more importantly with the thought that no matter our social level, the life choices we make affect not just us, but our whole family, and understanding and forgiveness are priceless.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anita Yoder

    This was one of those winning chance meetings with a book that I picked up from the library's new novels section. I loved being transported to China's rural provinces and big cities, with all their age old complexities and forced conformity. The story toggles between years, cities, and countries, but the chapter headings keep the plot line from feeling scattered or disconnected. My favorite part was on page 243, where the protagonist is lecturing on topography: " If you could define what was abse This was one of those winning chance meetings with a book that I picked up from the library's new novels section. I loved being transported to China's rural provinces and big cities, with all their age old complexities and forced conformity. The story toggles between years, cities, and countries, but the chapter headings keep the plot line from feeling scattered or disconnected. My favorite part was on page 243, where the protagonist is lecturing on topography: " If you could define what was absent, create a map for the missing, that was also a way of knowing a thing." As he connected emotions and relationships to math, I also connected his words to my story of missing pieces. Profound, unfussy, beautifully written. My second favorite part was the ending.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    In "A Map for the Missing", mathematics professor Yitian Tang receives an unexpected call from this mother in 1993; his father has mysteriously disappeared from their home in a rural village in Anhui, China. Even though Yitian has not spoken to his father in years, he agrees to return home to help. What follows is a story that traverses the present and Yitian's past, as we learn how he made his way as a farmer in China to his eventual position at an American university, and his eventual return t In "A Map for the Missing", mathematics professor Yitian Tang receives an unexpected call from this mother in 1993; his father has mysteriously disappeared from their home in a rural village in Anhui, China. Even though Yitian has not spoken to his father in years, he agrees to return home to help. What follows is a story that traverses the present and Yitian's past, as we learn how he made his way as a farmer in China to his eventual position at an American university, and his eventual return to his homeland. There is a lot of historical context needed to fully understand the weight of events in the 1970s, when Yitian is a teenager and China is moving past the death of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping has taken leadership of the country, instituting his Boluan Fanzheng - policies that brought China closer to the modern world. Even though Yitian has grown up a commoner, a "countryboy", he dreams of taking the gaokao (高考), China's newly reinstituted national college entrance exam, a grueling, multi-day test that millions of other hopeful students will take in hopes of being accepted into one of the few slots. Yitian's father, however, is far from supportive and only praises his eldest son, Yishou, for his hard work in the fields. Nonetheless, Yitian is able to find solace and support in Hanwen, a girl from Shanghai who has been "sent down" to the village from Mao's earlier policies, and they both dream of what passing the gaokao can mean for them. These events slowly bring us to the present, when Yitian returns to his hometown and is reunited with his mother and Hanwen. On the ongoing search for his father, we get to see the implications of Yitian's departure for America - how he's regarded by his neighbors and others in power, the assumptions made about him, and how his relationship with Hanwen has changed. It also paints an accurate picture of the country in the 1990s, with the pains of rapid growth and modernization, and the amount of corruption and bribery underlying these changes. What I loved most about this novel, however, was how carefully and cohesively Belinda Huijian Tang is able to piece together a singular family in China, and the events that happened that led to their eventual falling out. The setting is firmly rooted in the events of the time, calling out the political and financial upheavals, the societal segregation, and struggles so many underwent. We get to see, piece by piece, the initial misunderstandings and differences in the Tang family, as well as the heartbreaking events that led to Yitian's eventual estrangement from his father. Yitian's efforts to pursue academics and move to America are representative of so many immigrant stories , and the ongoing racial inequity he faces in a new country hit home as well. A word of caution: I have a hard time being completely objective about "A Map for the Missing" since there are so many elements in the novel that overlap with my own parents' stories and even my own, but it is nonetheless one of the best novels I've read this year that I devoured in less than a day. Very much a recommended read when this is published in August 2022! Thank you Penguin Press for the advance copy of this novel!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    A Map for the Missing is a beautifully written story told from the perspectives of academic Tang Yitian and wealthy housewife Tian Hanwen. Once upon a time, they were teenaged sweethearts studying together so they could escape life in rural China. Years later, Yitian takes leave from his American university position after receiving some surprising family news, returns to his home country, and asks Hanwen to use her bureaucrat connections to help him find his missing father. The novel spans the l A Map for the Missing is a beautifully written story told from the perspectives of academic Tang Yitian and wealthy housewife Tian Hanwen. Once upon a time, they were teenaged sweethearts studying together so they could escape life in rural China. Years later, Yitian takes leave from his American university position after receiving some surprising family news, returns to his home country, and asks Hanwen to use her bureaucrat connections to help him find his missing father. The novel spans the late 1970s to early 1990s and gives an eye-opening look at city and country life in China after the Cultural Revolution. This is one of those books that transports you to another time and place. Admittedly, the story is slow at times, and the relationships were somewhat underdeveloped—for example, I wanted to see more moments between Yitian and Hanwen to truly understand their connection and their longing for their somewhat unrequited love. But overall this is a captivating novel about the struggle between familial duty and personal growth as well as the individual’s search for a sense of belonging and home in a changing community.

  13. 5 out of 5

    victoria

    the quiet unfolding of yitian and hanwen’s lives, from moments of hurt, longing, and profound forgiveness by the end felt earned in a way that only good writers can accomplish, i think. i usually think contemporary fiction is really bad at writing about romance and love (everyone is so depresso lol) but i liked how belinda tang sorted out first love, familial love, and the more measured, less romanticized love that we choose to build as we get older.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sam - Read & Buried

    DNF at 30%. A Map for the Missing follows one man's journey to find his father. On the way, he learns more about the secrets of his family and his home country. I was really excited to read this, as I was hopeful that it would be a really riveting read. Unfortunately, I think the fact is it just isn't for me. I didn't really feel invested (or even interested) in the characters, and eventually I stopped reading it because I realized I didn't really care what happened in the end. This isn't a glar DNF at 30%. A Map for the Missing follows one man's journey to find his father. On the way, he learns more about the secrets of his family and his home country. I was really excited to read this, as I was hopeful that it would be a really riveting read. Unfortunately, I think the fact is it just isn't for me. I didn't really feel invested (or even interested) in the characters, and eventually I stopped reading it because I realized I didn't really care what happened in the end. This isn't a glaring fault of the author - it's clear that Tang is a good writer. The prose is quiet, though, and I felt like I couldn't really get a grasp on the voice or the characters as a result. Thank you to Penguin Press and NetGalley for providing a copy for review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I liked this, but some aspects of it needed a bit more finessing, in my opinion. Low 4.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brandi Gray

    3.5 The story has potential but I found it disjointed at times.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michele Hendrix

    Knowing that those who hurt us carry their own sets of hurts that they, too, operate within. Oh to know and walk in forgiveness and the prison doors asking for forgiveness and the act forgiving unlocks. The Map of the Missing weaves the story of hurts and forgiveness and the ripple effect within a family so well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    BooksnFreshair (Poornima Apte)

    I finished reading this book last night and...gasped. It's a stunner. Hope it wins all the awards. I don't think I have been swept up by a novel quite like this, at least in the last couple of years. I'm writing a starred review for Booklist. Put this one on your TBR pile, friends! I finished reading this book last night and...gasped. It's a stunner. Hope it wins all the awards. I don't think I have been swept up by a novel quite like this, at least in the last couple of years. I'm writing a starred review for Booklist. Put this one on your TBR pile, friends!

  19. 5 out of 5

    JoAnn

    This novel is about loss, many different kinds of loss through death or ill luck, through forces of politics and history beyond our own or anyone's individual control. It is about loss as a natural outcome of growth and change. It is about loss and its inscrutable, unshakeable companion, grief. It is also about the successors to loss: acceptance, perspective, renewal. The story begins with a mystery and an immediate confrontation with loss. Yitian, a middle aged Chinese professor of mathematics This novel is about loss, many different kinds of loss through death or ill luck, through forces of politics and history beyond our own or anyone's individual control. It is about loss as a natural outcome of growth and change. It is about loss and its inscrutable, unshakeable companion, grief. It is also about the successors to loss: acceptance, perspective, renewal. The story begins with a mystery and an immediate confrontation with loss. Yitian, a middle aged Chinese professor of mathematics who lives and works in the United States, finds himself on the calm end of a frantic phone call with his mother who announces that his father has gone missing. The remainder of the novel revolves around this event. This is the first loss, an obvious one. But as the story unfolds and Yitian returns to China to solve this mystery, help his mother, and locate his father, it becomes clear this is only the last of many that have come before. The novel moves fluidly from the present into the deep past, into Yitian's childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood. We encounter the loss of worlds that no longer exist: China pre-1949, before Mao and the Cultural Revolution stripped Chinese culture down to a party line; China in the throes of the Cultural Revolution when young men and women were "sent down" youths, cast out of towns and cities and abandoned in the countryside, their personal desires and ambitions beaten out of them; China of the 1980s in its easing up of strict communist restrictions on lifestyle and living. As Tang Yitian re-engages with China and the people of his past, the reader experiences with him the loss of his past. In that past is death of different kinds. There is literal death, but also metaphorical death -- of love, romance, family cohesion. We encounter loss and grief as disappointment. So often disappointment is overlooked as a form of loss, but Tang's A Map for the Missing makes a profound case for it here. The repeated disappointments that life deals us are obstacles in our path, they are barriers that prevent us from manifesting into reality the image of ourselves we see in our heads. Yitian's wife experiences this. So does Hanwen. So too do the elder Tang men. We also see the tale unravel from the point of view of those in Yitian's past, specifically Hanwen, a young woman, one of the "sent down" youths. In some ways, A Map for the Missing is a tale of these two characters and how their encounter, brief and powerful, shaped their lives. This is a novel of how loss shapes our lives. And because of that, the novel is less bleak than it might seem at the outset. There is a hopefulness embedded in it. Perhaps this is hinted at in the promise of its title. A map leads to a destination, doesn't it? It rescues the lost. It is simply a matter of reading the map, learning the topography and the legend and its scale. Yitian's journey lasts only a few weeks in real time, but it is really a deep delve into his past of several decades; it is on this journey into the past that he learns how to read the map. A Map for the Missing takes us with Yitian and the other characters on their trips through memory. Belinda Huijuan Tang's prose is a delicate vehicle for the reader's ride. The reader will barely feel the movement as they are shuttled through the novel from one moment to another, from one story to another, the past, the present, back again. Her prose flows. The chapters flow. Tang's description of place, perhaps foreign to some readers, fits the mood of the novel; it is sparse in parts, but succinct, delivering an image for the reader's mind in a sweep of few words. The characters too are real, even if their histories and cultures might differ from the average English-reading audience; they are easily recognizable across cultures. The men and women of Tang's novel are grounded in a specifically Chinese history and culture, but they are also relatable as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, teenagers, young adults, wives, and husbands. The reader will travel with these characters, witnessing Chinese history and their lives silently. At the end of this book, the reader cannot help but feel like they've gone somewhere familiar and alien. All of us know this story, we know this journey; it may be one we've taken before or one that we know we should take ourselves -- or one we might be forced to undertake, like some of the characters here. You, Reader, will feel exhausted, but you'll also feel... hopeful. A Map for the Missing is a wandering worth the taking. for both the destination and the experiences along the way.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 2.5 stars this will probably be the longest review i'll ever write. i was honestly really disappointed in this book since i was fully expecting a 4 to 5 start read. the thing that irked me the most was how simplistic the prose was yet convoluted at the same time. there were passages i would reread thinking i was tired or it was time to stop reading, but would then realize that it was just the phrasing that was convoluted. the only saving grace for me was the scene when yitian's mother was saying 2.5 stars this will probably be the longest review i'll ever write. i was honestly really disappointed in this book since i was fully expecting a 4 to 5 start read. the thing that irked me the most was how simplistic the prose was yet convoluted at the same time. there were passages i would reread thinking i was tired or it was time to stop reading, but would then realize that it was just the phrasing that was convoluted. the only saving grace for me was the scene when yitian's mother was saying bye as he left for college-which made me tear up. the pacing of the book was strange as well-only adding to the simplistic writing-since the story would oscillate between past and present-normal for books focusing on memory-but the way it was handled in this book was incredibly jarring synonymous to someone forgetting their memories. this would be genius if that was the intention but reading other reviews makes me think otherwise... Tang would allude to past events without any explanation in order to be subtle, subsequently explaining the references later when you would have already forgotten by that point. this is seen through the heavy-handed depiction of yitian talking to his uncle who mentions that his father has dyslexia-to which he remembers that yishou mentioned the exact same phenomenon-and he realizes he learned of the disorder after living in america. other instances of this tactic aren't as heavy-handed, but that only makes this instance and the general usage of this technique that much more reproachable and tactless. it also seemed like the author completely forgot about mali in the middle of the book or whenever yitian was looking for his father, only bringing her back at the end. the romance kinda felt like himym when the show was pushing for robin as the love interest but would still hint that that was not the intended person for ted, leaving you frustrated and confused when they still don't end up together in the end. overall, disappointing...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Iz

    Academic and Math professor, Yitian, who left his Chinese village for America, returns to find his missing father. He meets up with his old best friend, Tian Hanwen, who stayed behind missing out on the education they both longed for. The dual timeline of this book works well as we see young Yitian and Hanwen trying to find a way to make their dreams come true. We see how access to higher education was so tightly controlled. When you hear Hanwen’s auntie tell her “Don’t get stuck here”, your hea Academic and Math professor, Yitian, who left his Chinese village for America, returns to find his missing father. He meets up with his old best friend, Tian Hanwen, who stayed behind missing out on the education they both longed for. The dual timeline of this book works well as we see young Yitian and Hanwen trying to find a way to make their dreams come true. We see how access to higher education was so tightly controlled. When you hear Hanwen’s auntie tell her “Don’t get stuck here”, your heart breaks for her. Yitian’s relationship with his grandfather touches your heart. Current day, shows us how everything worked out for them. Unrealized dreams, ambition, loyalty, shame, friendship, obligation, forgiveness and acceptance are all themes running though this novel. ❤️❤️ This book examines the way we tend to put certain family members on a pedestal when we are young. Information that was kept from you as a child is often revealed later in life. And when we become adults we can see through a different lens to appreciate and forgive the loved ones we thought we knew. I love the multiple meanings of this title! So clever. Overall, a touching read and impressive debut novel! 🎉🎉

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Steeley

    I found this book very touching and easy to listen to (audio version). I do a book club with my mom and she and I haven’t run out of topics to discuss- from the political undertones in the book, complex relationships, and value of education - the list goes on. A great read. Only knocked a star because I feel not every book can be five stars- my breath wasn’t taken away at any point, though I was listening with great interest!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    3.5 there was something missing for me in this book about missing. By the end I had it figured out…I was basically annoyed by the main character. I have trouble with people who are passive in their lives and there was something of that in Yitian. Others make his life possible while he seems to just accept whatever happens. His lack of boldness and his lack of decisive action made him very unsympathetic to me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    An enjoyable read overall, though could have used another round of editing: the quality of the prose is uneven, pacing is a little choppy, and there are some logical inconsistencies w.r.t. historical dates. On the upside, Tang has definitely gotten rural Anhui/Jianghuai housing down to a T (those humongous Huangshan posters hanging in the main room…I don’t want to be a representAsian but I’d also be lying if I said that this did not influence my rating at all.)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robin Young

    Incredibly poignant, stunning writing, captivating and well-crafted story—5 full stars from me!

  26. 5 out of 5

    angela

    always feels bad giving an aapi author less than 4 stars 😔 this book is close to being there, but it just…. fell short for me. prose is nice, maybe a bit too fluffy for my liking. imo the biggest issue is that none of the characters really feel that fleshed out. tang’s writing style is very much “tell, don’t show,” so when it came to the characters’ backstories/emotions/desires/innermost turmoils, i just didn’t feel anything. nobody felt like a fully formed person inside my head, and i would’ve l always feels bad giving an aapi author less than 4 stars 😔 this book is close to being there, but it just…. fell short for me. prose is nice, maybe a bit too fluffy for my liking. imo the biggest issue is that none of the characters really feel that fleshed out. tang’s writing style is very much “tell, don’t show,” so when it came to the characters’ backstories/emotions/desires/innermost turmoils, i just didn’t feel anything. nobody felt like a fully formed person inside my head, and i would’ve loved to have more of yitian/hanwen’s backstories (life in the countryside/shanghai growing up, dynamics of home/sent-down life, their burgeoning love) to hold onto

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    DNF 50 pages of Yuck

  28. 5 out of 5

    Krissi Charsha

    This is an absolutely beautiful book. It follows the lives of Yitian and Hanwen from their younger years into adulthood. The book has a consistent flow of showing how the choices we make impact our future but not in a preachy way. I enjoyed learning about the Chinese culture. I think there is just enough given from each character to see how their lives progress throughout the book at the right time without wondering oh I wonder what happened to the other character. This does flip flop back and f This is an absolutely beautiful book. It follows the lives of Yitian and Hanwen from their younger years into adulthood. The book has a consistent flow of showing how the choices we make impact our future but not in a preachy way. I enjoyed learning about the Chinese culture. I think there is just enough given from each character to see how their lives progress throughout the book at the right time without wondering oh I wonder what happened to the other character. This does flip flop back and forth between past and present which I typically do not like but in this instance found that each chapter whether past or present was an important part of how the book flowed and actually really enjoyed it. It did leave me a bit curious at the end about what happens to Hanwen and hopeful for Yitian. The last chapter really got me and made me tear up which is not an easy thing to do. Overall this is definitely a new favorite book of mine, I found myself carrying the book around with me for any spare minute to continue reading as I wanted to know what happened next. It's beautifully written, and is def worth the 400 pages. This book comes out in August 2022 and I highly recommend it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review in exchange. Thank you for sending it, and the opportunity to read it. #ARC #Amapforthemissing #bookrecommendations #book #bookish #bookworm #bookcommunity #booklover #readingtime #readersofinstagram #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #readingcommunity #readersofig #reading

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lau

    I liked the ending but didn’t feel depth in any of the characters, it’s beautifully written which is what kept me interested, though it came off indifferent most of the story. Sadly I found it too slow and too much of back and forth on the timeline with nothing actually going forward. I think many scenes had the potential for more impact (not shock, emotional), but that the author held back.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: An interesting story, but the characters' own emotional detachment made it hard for me to get into it. When Tang Yitian's mother tells him that his father had disappeared from their village in rural China, he feels compelled to fly home from the US. Once there, he renews his relationship with a childhood sweetheart, leading them both to miss the potential of their youth. As with Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, I enjoyed following these characters over decades of their lives, but was s Summary: An interesting story, but the characters' own emotional detachment made it hard for me to get into it. When Tang Yitian's mother tells him that his father had disappeared from their village in rural China, he feels compelled to fly home from the US. Once there, he renews his relationship with a childhood sweetheart, leading them both to miss the potential of their youth. As with Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, I enjoyed following these characters over decades of their lives, but was surprised not to feel more emotionally connected to the story. In this case, I think my disconnect was driven by how flat the characters' emotions were. I wasn't convinced by their investment in each other, which made it harder for me to care about what happened to them either. The story was fairly slow, but I didn't mind that. Their was some suspense about whether Tang Yitian's father would be found. I also enjoyed learning about his past in flashbacks throughout. Unfortunately, without more emotional investment in this story, I still didn't find it a particularly satisfying read.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...