Beautiful Country

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

‘Hunger was a constant, reliable friend in Mei Guo. She came second only to loneliness.’

In China she was the daughter of professors. In Brooklyn her family is illegal.

Qian is just seven when she moves to America, the ‘Beautiful Country’, where she and her parents find that the roads of New York City are not paved with gold, but crushing fear and scarcity. Unable to speak English at first, Qian and her parents must work wherever they can to survive, all while she battles hunger and loneliness at school. Thus begins an extraordinary story that describes, in vivid colours, days labouring in sweatshops and sushi factories, nights scavenging the streets for furniture, and the terrifying moment when the family emerges from the shadows to seek emergency medical treatment for Qian’s mother.

Qian Julie Wang’s memoir is an unforgettable account of what it means to live under the perpetual threat of deportation and the small joys and sheer determination that kept her family afloat in a new land. Told from a child’s perspective, in a voice that is intimate, poignant and startlingly lyrical, Beautiful Country is the story of a girl who learns first to live – and then escape – an invisible life.

© Qian Julie Wang 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Critics Review

  • A story that needs to be heard. Moving, beautiful, heartbreaking and even funny . . . I never wanted it to end

    Philippa Perry
  • Now a successful lawyer, Qian is working through her trauma in this book, but it’s joyous too, with moments of brightness breaking through even the most trying times

    Sunday Times, Books of the Year
  • Elegantly affecting . . . Qian Julie Wang tells a remarkable story of displacement, heartache and resilience

    Guardian, Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2021
  • Deeply compelling . . . I was moved by the love and resilience of this family thrust into darkness. The book casts an urgent light on a reality that extends way beyond America’s borders

    Hisham Matar, author of The Return
  • A powerful, gripping insight into the world of an undocumented migrant in New York . . . beautifully written, with vivid scenes that linger in the mind long after finishing it

    Helena Merriman
  • Sharply observed . . . Wang’s story leaves the reader wishing that wanting a better future, and working hard for it, wasn’t illegal in a country that has been built on the back of immigrants


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