About the Book

It is late afternoon in an Indian visa office in an unnamed American city; most customers have come and gone, but nine people remain: a punky teenager with an unexpected gift; an upper class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating; a young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11; a graduate student haunted by a question about love; an African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption; a Chinese grandmother with a secret past; and two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.


When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine wildly individual characters together, their focus first jolts to a collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. As their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival—and about the reasons to survive.

Ingeniously conceived and intelligently written, this novel is a fable for our time. The characters, troubled or shattered by their past, vibrate with life whenever they begin to speak. The book is a fun read from the first page to the last. - Ha Jin, author of Waiting, winner of the National Book Award:

One Amazing Thing collapses the walls dividing characters and cultures; what endures is a chorus of voices in one single room. - Jhumpa Lahiri, author of Interpreter of Maladies, winner of the Pulitzer Prize:

An incredible and highly original premise in the hands of a gifted storyteller has resulted in this jewel of a story. It is, to paraphrase the book’s title, an amazing thing. - Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone, chosen as a Best of 2009 by Publisher’s Weekly: