Yiyun Li's picture

Yiyun Li

China (b.1972)

Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996. She has received fellowships and awards from Lannan Foundation and Whiting Foundation. Her debut collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. Her novel, The Vagrants, won the gold medal of California Book Award for fiction, and was shortlisted for Dublin IMPAC Award. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, her second collection, was a finalist of Story Prize and shortlisted for Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. She was selected by Granta as one of the 21 Best Young American Novelists under 35, and was named by The New Yorker as one of the top 20 writers under 40. MacArthur Foundation named her a 2010 fellow. She is a contributing editor to the Brooklyn-based literary magazine, A Public Space. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband and their two sons, and teaches at University of California, Davis.

Genres: Literary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
   A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2005)
   Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (2010)
   Stories Upon Stories (2016) (with Alessandro Baricco, Umberto Eco, Dave Eggers and Abraham Yehoshua)
   Southword 36 (2019) (with Kim Addonizio, Patrick Cotter, August Kleinzahler, Paul McVeigh, Thomas McCarthy, Audrey Molloy, Ron Rash and Brian Turner)
   Wednesday's Child (2023)
Yiyun Li recommends
Locke 1928 (2007)
Shawna Yang Ryan
"A beautiful debut, Water Ghosts opens up a page in history that sometimes is forgotten by both cultures that once coexisted in Locke, a Sacramento Chinese farming town. By mapping out the familiar and the strange territories of human passion and retelling the old myths, Shawna Yang Ryan tells a story that, in the end, is about how America was truly made."
Bitter in the Mouth (2010)
Monique Truong
"Be prepared for a full range of tastes of life in Bitter in the Mouth: friendship, loyalty, love, family, and above all, the mysteries at every corner of one’s history that make us who we are. Monique Truong is a great observer and a beautiful writer."
Panorama City (2012)
Antoine Wilson
"With ears keenly tuned to the music of language, and a limpid mind slyly hidden behind a persistent soliloquist, Antoine Wilson has written an intricate novel that makes us laugh and cry."
Good Morning, Midnight (2016)
Lily Brooks-Dalton
"What does it mean to be isolated from the ordinariness of the everyday world, yet to find the extraordinariness of being close to another human being? With imagination, empathy, and insight into unchanged and unchangeable human nature, Lily Brooks-Dalton takes us on an emotional journey in this beautiful debut."
Last Stories (2018)
William Trevor
"A beautiful writer... I would not have become a writer at all had I not discovered his work."
99 Nights in Logar (2019)
Jamil Jan Kochai
"Imagine a twelve-year-old Don Quixote traversing a world full of absurdities and tragedies. Imagine The Arabian Nights set with America overshadowing an ancient landscape. 99 Nights in Logar is hilariously sad and heartbreakingly funny. Jamil Jan Kochai, a thrilling new writer, achieves in this book that rare quality of a storyteller both ageless and contemporary."
What Strange Paradise (2019)
Omar El Akkad
"What an imaginative, touching, and necessary novel Omar El Akkad has brought to us. It reminds us of the human stories behind headlines and statistics, and gives us one of the most memorable children characters, whose story adds urgency and poignancy to that ‘awfully big adventure’ stated by Peter Pan."
Wild Swims (2020)
Dorthe Nors
"Reading Nors's work, one is reminded of the thrills and dangers of living."
Heaven and Earth (2020)
Paolo Giordano
"An intense novel about passions and reasons, unbreakable bonds and reckless excursions. Giordano is a master storyteller."
Likes (2020)
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
"Sarah Shun-lien Bynum not only makes us see and feel what we may have missed in our busy lives, but articulates what we see and feel with the precise words we’ve always been searching for but rarely find. How does she capture the world in its shimmery and inexplicable state so deftly? Stories in this collection lead the readers to feel nostalgic for experiences both lived and missed, alarmed and yet thrilled by the mysteries hidden in everyday moments, and above all, hopeful and grateful that there is no need to compromise: we can live as fully and expansively as these stories."
The Five Wounds (2021)
Kirstin Valdez Quade
"An unputdownable novel, The Five Wounds takes my breath away with its intimate, humorous, and heart-aching portrayal of a New Mexican family. Kirstin Valdez Quade can make a reader laugh and break a reader’s heart in the same breath, and she leaves us, by the end of the novel, in awe of the dazzling power of her storytelling."
Filthy Animals (2021)
Brandon Taylor
"A writer who meets life with a rare combination of will, wonderment, temperament, and vitality."
The Family Chao (2022)
Lan Samantha Chang
"In this symphonic novel, Lan Samantha Chang gives us a multitude of souls lost and found: the gregarious are isolated, the ruthless are hunted, the voiceless scheme with hidden power, the innocent suffer from murderous desire. This is one of the finest and most ambitious novels about America I've read in recent years."
Thank You, Mr. Nixon (2022)
Gish Jen
"Be prepared to be awed and enthralled by one of our best writers! Fiercely funny and unrelentingly honest, Gish Jen's new collection places a finger on the pulse of many lives caught between the indifferent movement of history and the profound desires of individuals."
The Orchard (2022)
Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry
"A timeless tale of memory, desire, dreams lost and altered, love changed and unchanged."
Other Names for Love (2022)
Taymour Soomro
"A twenty-first century variation of Turgenev's Fathers and Sons... Taymour Soomro is a thrilling new addition to international literature."
Retrospective (2022)
Juan Gabriel Vásquez
"A true international writer."
Western Lane (2023)
Chetna Maroo
"Combining the precision and the efficiency of an athlete with the mysteries of childhood loss and memory, Western Lane is a novel in which we linger on every breathing line and relish every close observation. What an exceptionally talented writer Chetna Maroo is!"
Commitment (2023)
Mona Simpson
"Few novelists write about America as Mona Simpson does, with her acute understanding of the tension between external forces-economy, technology, society-and individual dreams, between nostalgia and the future, between yearning and deception. Commitment is a majestic novel about an American family and an American century, its vision and scope bringing to mind the work of Tolstoy, Stendahl, and Balzac."

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