NovelClass podcast

4.10: Simon Han's Nights When Nothing Happened

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On today’s episode, Daniel Ford, author and host of the Writer’s Bone podcast, reprises his role as co-host. Daniel and host Dave Pezza sat down to discuss Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han.

Nights When Nothing Happened was published on November 17, 2020 by Riverhead Books and is Simon Han’s debut novel. Set in Plano, Texas in November of 2004, Nights When Nothing Happened follows the Cheng family, immigrants from the Chinese city of Tianjin. As the family’s matriarch, Patty Cheng attempts to live the American dream, creating revolutionary cell phone technology at Texas-based tech giant. While Patty commutes to work early and leaves late to accommodate her global team, Liang Cheng cares for the family’s two children, Jack and Annabel, while running a mall-based photography studio from home. But like all families, the Cheng’s have their own secrets and hardships, including a husband’s mysterious past, a wife’s waning love, and a pair precocious children stuck in the middle.

In Nights When Nothing Happened, Han delivers the truth about the American dream, complete with lingering doubts, disjointed familial bonds, unbridled aspirations, systemic racism, and cultural disconnects. Here, Han creates a complex family with mysterious external and internal struggles that keep the reader in a penumbra of doubt about their intentions and actions. In his debut novel, Han establishes himself as a sound architect of the human condition as well as the pitfalls of chasing success in America.

Please enjoy our discussion of Nights When Nothing Happened.

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