The Celestials by Karen Shepard
A Novel

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...some characters strain plausibility — the pistol-packing Sampson is far too passive in the face of his wife’s adultery...
-NY Times

Synopsis

The Celestials is a historical novel of immigration, multiculturalism, labor, community and exclusion, alienation and reinvention, and our country's peculiar history and relationship with all those things. It's about our shared sense that we're all aliens of some kind--at home in no place.

In June of 1870, seventy-five Chinese laborers arrived in North Adams, Massachusetts, to work for Calvin Sampson, one of the biggest industrialists in that busy factory town. Except for the foreman, the Chinese didn’t speak English. They didn’t know they were strikebreakers. The eldest of them was twenty-two. Combining historical and fictional elements, The Celestials beautifully reimagines the story of Sampson’s “Chinese experiment” and the effect of the newcomers’ threatening and exotic presence on the New England locals. When Sampson’s wife, Julia, gives birth to a mixed-race baby, the infant becomes a lightning rod for the novel’s conflicts concerning identity, alienation, and exile.
 

About Karen Shepard

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Karen Shepard is a Chinese-American born and raised in New York City. She is the author of three novels, An Empire of Women, The Bad Boy's Wife, and Don't I Know You? Her short fiction has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction has appeared in More, Self, USA Today, and the Boston Globe. She teaches writing and literature at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she lives.
 
Published June 11, 2013 by Tin House Books. 320 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by MAX BYRD on Jul 26 2013

...some characters strain plausibility — the pistol-packing Sampson is far too passive in the face of his wife’s adultery...

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