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I haven’t even had that experience.”“How Much of These Hills Is Gold” is the debut novel from C Pam Zhang.

(Cover courtesy of Penguin Random House/ Photo: Gioia Zloczower)But reactions from readers have made strong impressions on the novelist.

They come of age while fending for themselves at the time of the California Gold Rush, their experiences compounded by issues of gender identity and the anti-Chinese racism of the Old West.

“To me, Northern California has always been associated with literature and with this mythologized, almost fantastical, landscape,” says Zhang.

“Expanding beyond Northern California, the general mythology of the American West has always been really huge in my mind,” she says.

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