Tomb Sweeping: Stories (Paperback)
A playful and deeply affective short story collection about the histories, technologies, and generational divides that shape our relationships—from the award-winning writer of Days of Distraction
Compelling and perceptive, Tomb Sweeping probes the loyalties we hold: to relatives, to strangers, and to ourselves. In stories set across the US and Asia, Alexandra Chang immerses us in the lives of immigrant families, grocery store employees, expecting parents, and guileless lab assistants.
A woman known only to her neighbors as “the Asian recycling lady” collects bottles from the streets she calls home. A young college grad ponders the void left from a broken friendship. An unfulfilled housewife in Shanghai finds a secret outlet for her ambitions in an undercover gambling den. Two strangers become something more through the bond of mistaken identity.
These characters, adeptly attuned to the mystery of living, invite us to consider whether it is possible for anyone to entirely do right by another. Tomb Sweeping brims with remarkable skill and talent in every story, keeping a definitive pulse on loss, community, and what it means to feel fully alive. With her debut story collection, Chang further establishes herself as “a writer to watch” (New York Times Book Review).
About the Author
Alexandra Chang is the author of Days of Distraction. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, and her writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Guernica, and elsewhere. She lives in Ventura County.
“Alexandra Chang is a riveting and exciting presence in our literature. Her stories are honest, insightful, bold, and full of heart.” — George Saunders, author of Liberation Day
“Haunting and mesmerizing; it’s only after you finish reading Alexandra Chang's Tomb Sweeping that you realize there were so many gaps in you that her stories were destined to fill. A marvelous collection.”
— Jason Mott, National Book Award–winning author of Hell of a Book
"Chang writes deftly about the wonder and volatility of becoming. In Tomb Sweeping, family (or lineage) is a matter of both predestiny and aberration." — Raven Leilani, author of Luster
“Following her phenomenal debut novel, Days of Distraction, Chang returns with Tomb Sweeping, a collection of inventive, affecting, and delightfully strange stories featuring humble characters across China and the US who navigate daily disappointments, work mundanities, and unlikely encounters. Whether set in rundown homes or an illegal gambling den, these stories reveal the high stakes of even the smallest personal dramas, and the ways we seek out comfort as we go through them.” — Bustle
“Compelling and compulsively readable, Tomb Sweeping reveals that Chang is a writer who’s only just beginning to show readers her impressive range. Subtle wisdom runs rampant through these pages.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Chang (Days of Distraction) explores the meaning of home in her powerful and delightfully strange debut collection. . . . Chang’s distinctive style and wry tone bring her characters to startling life, all the while rendering the pain of their loneliness and desire for stability in stark relief. This is a triumph.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Arresting. . . Chang’s sharp observations again transform her fiction into bitingly acute truths.” — Terry Hong
“Alexandra Chang’s stories reveal humanity through the mundane. As the title of the collection suggests, Tomb Sweeping is a nod to forbears, a meditation of our estranged ancestors, faults and all, who have stumbled before us.” — Northwest Review
“Some stories are funny, some are more poignant, others bizarre, and many are a delightful combination. Read after getting that flight confirmation email.” — Read Reciepts
“Riveting. . . . These stories examine the dream of wealth and success, as characters wrestle with conflicting desires of connection and independence.” — Washington Post
“A haunting exploration of relationships that examines the deep bonds and disappointments of family and modern life…. [Chang’s] deft skills are coupled with a fearlessness in investigating the awkward and uncomfortable spaces between people…. Within these pages there is also humor and love.” — Shondaland
“Each of these pieces offers a hint of humor and a dose (small or large) of haunt. . . .Each story investigates and celebrates the question of knowing, just like the tomb-sweeping holiday does. For what do we really know? And how can we ever know? Chang’s genius is in the gaps that leave us pondering.” — Book Report Network
“The best of Chang’s stories possess an unsentimental, fable-like quietude...wherein the strangeness of relationships, particularly familial bonds, are scrutinized through a lens of equally strange, rose-tinted nihilism. Other stories by Chang resemble, in their handling of dialogue and power, the works of American literary cult figure Jane Bowles. . . . Chang’s characters, armed with college degrees in rhetoric and razor-sharp self-awareness, are as difficult as they are endearing. . . . The accelerated present Chang offers helps us see where fever dreams might lead, or at least that we’re not alone in having them.” — The Millions