A harrowing and redemptive immigrant story for readers of Pachinko
A Chinese railroad worker and his young daughter—sold into servitude—in 19th century California search for family, fulfillment, and belonging in a violent new land
“Heaven and earth do not pick and choose.
They see everything as straw dogs.”
A sweeping historical novel of the American West from the little-seen perspective of those who helped to build it, Straw Dogs of the Universe traces the story of one Chinese father and his young daughter, desperate to find him against all odds.
After her village is devastated by famine, 10-year-old Sixiang is sold to a human trafficker for a bag of rice and six silver coins. Her mother is reluctant to let her go, but the promise of a better life for her beloved daughter ultimately sways her. Arriving in America with the profits from her sale and a single photograph of Guifeng, her absent father, Sixiang journeys across an unfamiliar American landscape in the hopes of reuniting her family.
As she makes her way through an unforgiving new world, her father, a railroad worker in California, finds his attempts to build a life for himself both upended and defined by along-lost love and the seemingly inescapable violence of the American West. A generational saga ranging from the villages of China to the establishment of the transcontinental railroad and the anti-Chinese movement in California, Straw Dogs of the Universe considers the tenacity of family ties and the courage it takes to survive in a country that rejects you, even as it relies upon your labor.