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Named a Best Book of the Year by TIME, The Washington Post, and Harper’s Bazaar

“A tender, spiky family saga about love in all its mysterious incarnations. Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and Birds of America

“Searing . . . Han asks a timeless yet urgent question: Is it possible to feel truly safe in a place that wasn’t made for you?” Time

From the outside, the Chengs seem like so-called model immigrants. Once Patty landed a tech job near Dallas, she and Liang grew secure enough to have a second child, and to send for their first from his grandparents back in China. Isn’t this what they sacrificed so much for? But then little Annabel begins to sleepwalk at night, putting into motion a string of misunderstandings that not only threaten to set their community against them but force to the surface the secrets that have made them fear one another. How can a man make peace with the terrors of his past? How can a child regain trust in unconditional love? How can a family stop burying its history and forge a way through it, to a more honest intimacy?

Nights When Nothing Happened is gripping storytelling immersed in the crosscurrents that have reshaped the American landscape, from a prodigious new literary talent.

Reviews

A tender, spiky family saga about love in all its mysterious incarnations. Simon Han is a wonderfully adventurous and sensitive writer.
Lorrie Moore
In this beautiful, unsettling novel, Simon Han captures the state of being awake and yet asleep, of belonging and yet not, of waiting for the moment when the world opens up. With the turn of a crystalline sentence, he reveals how fragile we are, and what it takes to survive. An unbelievable debut.
Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here and The Family Fang
Absolutely luminous. Han weaves the transience of suburbia between the highs and lows of a family saga, illustrating what a parent owes a child, what a child owes their parents, and what simply cannot be repaid. His novel shocks, awes, and delights.
Bryan Washington, author of Lot
In his beautifully written debut novel, Simon Han takes a keen look at immigration, family and love. Insightful and poignant.
Jean Kwok, author of Searching for Sylvie Lee
Simon Han's suburban Dallas is every bit as haunting, and haunted, as John Cheever's Westchester County, illuminating the liminal spaces between American Dream and American nightmare. At the end of every quiet cul-de-sac lie equal parts beauty and madness.
Tony Earley, author of Jim the Boy and Mr. Tall
In intricately elegant prose, Simon Han explores the desire to belong-to a marriage, a family, a community, a country. Nights When Nothing Happened is about how we use words and silences to connect and wound, and how we make sacrifices for those we love. It broke my heart and gave me hope, all at the same time.
Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek
An intimate and nuanced portrait of a family trying to find their way in a new country. With a sharp eye and a finely tuned ear, Simon Han tells a story that is by turns achingly tender and emotionally devastating. A stunning debut that will stay with me.
Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
"How does a family find its footing after it leaves home for good?. . . . Rendered in a series of quick brush strokes, as if in a Raymond Carver story. . . . [and] seen from the shifting perspectives of mother, father, daughter and son-each fully, empathetically rendered. . . . this novel reminds us what it's like navigating a foreign country. . . . Much to admire."
The New York Times Book Review
"Entirely worth the investment . . . . Han's expansive sympathy and twilight lyricism make Nights When Nothing Happened a poignant study of the immigrant experience. This is an author who understands on a profound level the way past trauma interacts with the pressures of assimilation to disrupt a good night's sleep, even a life."
The Washington Post
"[A] dazzling debut . . . . In this subtle but deeply felt story, Han elegantly takes aim at suburban racism, generational trauma, and the secrets we keep from one another in order to stay afloat."
Esquire
"A deeply affecting portrait of one family's immigrant experience - and the toll that the American Dream takes on those who chase it."
Harper's Bazaar