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A Map for the Missing  By  cover art

A Map for the Missing

By: Belinda Huijuan Tang
Narrated by: Austin Ku
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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s 2022 First Novel Prize!

“Belinda Huijuan Tang’s debut novel is a beautifully drawn, sensitively rendered portrait of a man desperately searching for his father—and for reconnection to the past and people he once knew and loved. Both rich in historical detail and timeless in scope, A Map for the Missing explores the costs of choosing your own path, whether what’s left behind can ever be retrieved, and whether it is possible to forgive the wounds we inevitably inflict on each other.”—Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

“An engrossing saga of a young mathematician caught between two countries, two cultures, two eras, and two loves. Set against the violent turmoil of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, this powerful debut explores the wrenching impact of political ideologies on individual lives in a way that is resonant and timely.”—Ruth Ozeki, author of The Book of Form and Emptiness and A Tale for the Time Being

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.

©2022 Belinda Huijuan Tang (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“In this spectacular debut, Tang places an everyman at the center of her narrative and traces his unease with himself and the larger world . . . A breathtaking portrait of the regret that can forever shape a life when someone helplessly sticks to the path of least resistance.” Booklist (starred review)

"Splendid . . . It's astonishing that A Map for the Missing is Tang's debut novel . . . gripping from its first page to its last." —Bookpage 

“[An] ambitious debut novel . . . Themes of family and forgiveness against the sweep of political foment inform this epic . . . A Map for the Missing finds a math professor returning from the United States to his native China on a pilgrimage of multigenerational discovery.” Kirkus 

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What listeners say about A Map for the Missing

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  • Overall
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Beautiful story, distractingly poor narration

Title says it all: This is an interesting, engaging, pleasant work of historical fiction that I enjoyed tremendously...when I wasn't entirely distracted by the abysmal characterizations from the narrator. His basic delivery is fine, lacking in charisma and subtlety, but okay. When, however, he speaks as a character, especially a female character, well, let's just say he'd be a favorite for a Golden Raspberry if they had an audio book narration category. If you're on the fence on format and want to focus on the story - go for the print. If, like me, you'd probably never sit down long enough to read this in print and can muster a sense of humor about clichéd dialogue delivery, then go for this audiobook, and have a laugh or two at the tone deaf intonations.

1 person found this helpful

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Disappointing

The story was fairly interesting, but I almost gave up and returned this book because of the narration. The various voices were so irritating and poorly done. I do not understand why the narrator felt this was necessary rather than just maintaining his normal voice for all the characters. Is there no one to edit the final product?

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful debut novel

Such a gift to help me deal with my feelings about being in a different country, away from my parents. So much more here to unpack. The relationship dynamics and the starkness between cultures are so well crafted.

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A Good Listen

I enjoyed this book. I especially liked the mathematical analogies to life. I didn’t care for the reader imitating the different female voices. It would have been better to have had them read straight. I enjoyed hearing about the immigrant experience and about life in China, and how people get to move to another country, like the US. The book is interesting.

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Survival, Growth, Forgiveness

I purchased A Map for the Missing to find out more about this period in China and found it very interesting. A story of survival, growth, and forgiveness. The characters’ development as they live their lives keeps the reader engaged. Good breaks between character storylines.

Narration was very good.

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map of the missing

loved it. loved the narration. loved the context supported by historical background. loved the title which was explained further into the story.