Brillant, exigeant, un texte de la reconstruction psychique et artistique qui confronte avec pudeur et élégance deux questions essentielles : pourquoi écrire ? Pourquoi vivre ? Il fut un temps où je lisais les carnets de Katherine Mansfield pour me distraire. " Cher ami, de ma vie je vous écris dans votre vie ", écrivit-elle dans une entrée. En lisant cette phrase, j'ai pleuré... Elle me rappelle aussi la raison pour laquelle je ne veux pas m'arrêter d'écrire. Les livres que l'on écrit - passés, présents et futurs - n'essaient-ils pas de dire la même chose : Cher ami, de ma vie je vous écris dans votre vie
? Qu'il est long, le chemin d'une vie à une autre ! Convoquant à la fois philosophie et littérature, une oeuvre remarquable où l'auteur d'Un beau jour de printemps interroge celle qu'elle a été, celle qu'elle est et celle qu'elle sera : l'enfant persécutée, la scientifique dans l'âme, l'immigrante au parcours complexe, la mère en quête de réponses, l'écrivain au coeur d'une nouvelle création...
Le livre qui a révélé Yiyun Li sur la scène littéraire internationale et qui lui a valu de nombreux prix, dont le Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award et le Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Portées par une extraordinaire finesse d'observation et une bouleversante empathie, dix histoires ancrées dans la Chine d'aujourd'hui, sur l'amour filial, les errements idéologiques, la condition des femmes ou les aspirations d'une jeunesse tiraillée entre tradition et modernité. " Yiyun Li est l'authenticité même... Elle a ce talent, cette vision, ce respect envers les mystères insolubles de la vie que l'on rencontre chez les bons écrivains. Dans toutes ces histoires, les clichés sont mis en pièces à mesure que les personnages acquièrent une profondeur, une perspicacité, une individualité perverse. Les innombrables vies détruites par l'Histoire ne peuvent être reconstruites, mais peut-être un livre comme Un millier d'années de bonnes prières est-il la meilleure revanche possible. " Michel Faber, auteur de La Rose pourpre et le lys, in The Guardian
J'ai failli être à ta place un jour, et c'est pour ça que je me suis permis d'inventer ce monde pour parler avec toi. On peut supporter la tristesse, mais elle est une garnison impuissante contre la cécité de la tragédie. Le suicide d'un adolescent, le deuil d'un parent. Le dialogue qu'imagine une mère avec son enfant pour continuer à lui parler, à l'entendre, à le faire exister. Le cache-cache intellectuel de deux esprits marqués par le sceau de la création.
Après le très brillant
Cher ami, de ma vie je vous écris dans votre vie, qui fut en lice pour le prix Médicis et le prix du Meilleur livre étranger, Yiyun Li rend un hommage plein de tendresse, de poésie et de pudeur à son fils, et mêle magnifiquement l'intime à l'universel : la douleur après la perte d'un être cher, le refuge que constituent les mots et, plus largement, la puissance cathartique de la littérature.
" Yiyun Li excelle à rendre les vies ordinaires broyées par les aberrations du système Mao, les drames obscurs des sans-grades dans les villes de province et les carnages plus intimes des sentiments. Elle déploie un art du récit concentré et intimiste, tissé de mots simples et d'images classiques. " David Fontaine, Le Canard enchaînéDes révolutions étudiantes de la place Tian'anmen au déracinement dans lequel les États-Unis maintiennent leurs migrants aujourd'hui, l'histoire de trois amis au destin brisé par un mystérieux accident. Servie par un style à l'élégance distanciée, une oeuvre saisissante qui explore les tréfonds de la nature humaine, et notamment l'idée que même la plus innocente des personnes est capable du plus glacial des crimes...
The second collection of stories from Yiyun Li, author of the Guardian First Book Award-winning A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and The Vagrants.
The stories in this collection, like the stories in A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, are mostly set in China. The country portrayed here is the China of the 21st century, where economic development has led to new situations unknown to previous decades: residents in a shabby apartment building witnessing in awe the real estate boom; a local entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist sheltering women in trouble in her mansion; a group of retired women discovering fame late in their lives as private investigators specializing in extramarital affairs; a young woman setting up a blog to publicize an alleged affair of her father.
Underneath the veneer of prosperity and opportunity, however, lie the struggles of characters trying to reorient themselves in the unfamiliar landscapes of modern China: a widower, reminiscing about his wife, confronts a young unmarried woman purchasing condoms in a pharmacy; a new wife makes a plea to have a baby with her husband who was to be executed only to discover that she has become an instant celebrity; a middle-aged couple in America, who, upon losing their only daughter, return to their hometown in China to hire a young woman as a surrogate mother. These characters' fates are affected as much by the historical moments in which they reside as by the choices they make.
Yiyun Li's collection of stories is a report from the frontline of a changing world, and confirms Li to be an unmissable writer.
BONUS: This edition contains a The Vagrants discussion guide.
In luminous prose, award-winning author Yiyun Li weaves together the lives of unforgettable characters who are forced to make moral choices, and choices for survival, in China in the late 1970s.
As morning dawns on the provincial city of Muddy River, a spirited young woman, Gu Shan, once a devoted follower of Chairman Mao, has renounced her faith in Communism. Now a political prisoner, she is to be executed for her dissent. While Gu Shan’s distraught mother makes bold decisions, her father begins to retreat into memories. Neither of them imagines that their daughter’s death will have profound and far-reaching effects, in Muddy River and beyond. Among the characters affected are Kai, a beautiful radio announcer who is married to a man from a powerful family; Tong, a lonely seven-year-old boy; and Nini, a hungry young girl. Beijing is being rocked by the Democratic Wall Movement, an anti-Communist groundswell designed to move the country toward a more enlightened and open society, but the government backlash will be severe.
In this spellbinding novel, the brilliant Yiyun Li gives us a powerful and beautiful portrait of human courage and despair in dramatic times.
Brilliant and original, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers introduces a remarkable new writer whose breathtaking stories are set in China and among Chinese Americans in the United States. In this rich, astonishing collection, Yiyun Li illuminates how mythology, politics, history, and culture intersect with personality to create fate. From the bustling heart of Beijing, to a fast-food restaurant in Chicago, to the barren expanse of Inner Mongolia, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers reveals worlds both foreign and familiar, with heartbreaking honesty and in beautiful prose.
"Immortality," winner of The Paris Review's Plimpton Prize for new writers, tells the story of a young man who bears a striking resemblance to a dictator and so finds a calling to immortality. In "The Princess of Nebraska," a man and a woman who were both in love with a young actor in China meet again in America and try to reconcile the lost love with their new lives.
"After a Life" illuminates the vagaries of marriage, parenthood, and gender, unfolding the story of a couple who keep a daughter hidden from the world. And in "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers," in which a man visits America for the first time to see his recently divorced daughter, only to discover that all is not as it seems, Li boldly explores the effects of communism on language, faith, and an entire people, underlining transformation in its many meanings and incarnations.
These and other daring stories form a mesmerizing tapestry of revelatory fiction by an unforgettable writer.
From the Hardcover edition.
The new novel from Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants and the Guardian First Book Award-winning A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.
When Moran, Ruyu, and Boyang were young, they were involved in a mysterious 'accident' in which a young woman was poisoned. Now grown up, the three friends are separated by this incident, and by time and distance. Boyang stayed in China, while Moran and Ruyu emigrated to the United States. All three remain haunted by what really happened.
A breathtaking page-turner, Kinder Than Solitude resonates with provocative observations about human nature and the virtues of loyalty. In mesmerizing prose, and with profound philosophical insight, Yiyun Li unfolds this remarkable story, even as she explores the impact of personality and the past on the shape of a person's present and future.
In these spellbinding stories, Yiyun Li, a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award winner, a MacArthur Fellow, and one of The New Yorker’s top 20 fiction writers under 40, gives us exquisite stories in which politics and folklore magnificently illuminate the human condition. A professor introduces her middle-aged son to a favorite student, unaware of the student’s true affections. A lifelong bachelor finds kinship with a man wrongly accused of an indiscretion. Six women establish a private investigating agency to battle extramarital affairs in Beijing. Written in lyrical prose and with stunning honesty, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl introduces us to worlds strange and familiar, creating a mesmerizing and vibrant landscape of life.
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A profound mystery is at the heart of this magnificent new novel by Yiyun Li, “one of America’s best young novelists” (Newsweek) and the celebrated author of The Vagrants, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Moving back and forth in time, between America today and China in the 1990s, Kinder Than Solitude is the story of three people whose lives are changed by a murder one of them may have committed. As one of the three observes, “Even the most innocent person, when cornered, is capable of a heartless crime.”
When Moran, Ruyu, and Boyang were young, they were involved in a mysterious incident in which a friend of theirs was poisoned. Grown up, the three friends are separated by distance and personal estrangement. Moran and Ruyu live in the United States, Boyang in China; all three are haunted by what really happened in their youth, and by doubt about themselves. In California, Ruyu helps a local woman care for her family and home, avoiding entanglements, as she has done all her life. In Wisconsin, Moran visits her ex-husband, whose kindness once overcame her flight into solitude. In Beijing, Boyang struggles to deal with an inability to love, and with the outcome of what happened among the three friends twenty years before.
Brilliantly written, a breathtaking page-turner, Kinder Than Solitude resonates with provocative observations about human nature and life. In mesmerizing prose, and with profound insight, Yiyun Li unfolds this remarkable story, even as she explores the impact of personality and the past on the shape of a person’s present and future.
Praise for Kinder Than Solitude
“This is an exceptional novel, and Yiyun Li has grown into one of our major novelists.”--Salman Rushdie
“Yiyun Li infuses the traditional form with a fresh, rigorous beauty and a sense of permanence and increasing value.”--Mona Simpson, author of My Hollywood
“[A] sleek, powerful novel about the weight of memory, the brunt of loss and the myriad ways the past can crimp the soul . . . Li gives us gifts of gorgeous prose. . . . Rarely are ordinary humans given such eloquent witness.”--The Washington Post
“What makes [Kinder Than Solitude] so vivid is its humanity. . . . It is an inquiry into how the past scars us, shaping present and future, and some deeds, once committed, can never be undone.”--Los Angeles Times
“[Li’s] true gift . . . is old-fashioned storytelling [and] a sense that a life, a whole life, can be captured on pages.”--The Boston Globe
“A stunning, dark, and beautiful book . . . Yiyun Li writes with characteristic genius.”--Paul Harding, author of Tinkers and Enon
The novel from the Guardian First Book Award-winning Chinese writer acclaimed by Michel Faber as having 'the talent, the vision and the respect for life's insoluble mysteries to be a truly fine writer.'
In the provincial town of Muddy Waters in China, a young woman named Gu Shan is sentenced to death for her loss of faith in Communism. She is twenty-eight years old and has already spent ten years in prison. The citizens stage a protest after her death and, over the following six weeks, the town goes through uncertainty, hope, and fear until eventually the rebellion is brutally suppressed.
We follow the pain of Gu Shan's parents, the hope and fear of the leaders of the protest and their families. Even those who seem unconnected to the tragedy - an eleven-year-old boy seeking fame and glory, a nineteen-year-old village idiot in love with a young and deformed girl, and old couple making a living by scavenging the town's garbage cans - are caught up in remorseless turn of events.
Yiyun Li's novel is based on the true story which took place in China in 1979.
Brilliant and original, 'A Thousand Years of Good Prayers' introduces a remarkable first collection of stories about China from an author set to become a major literary talent.
In her first memoir, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li offers a journey of recovery through literature: a letter from a writer to like-minded readers.
“A meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life.”--Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead
“What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance?”
Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a luminous account of a life lived with books. Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living.
Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, a mother, a daughter--and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Søren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together.
Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live?
Advance praise for Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life
“In this exquisite, intimate, lyrical memoir, Yiyun Li reveals her life in flashes appended to an arrestingly coherent philosophy of time, self, and place. Uniting the discipline of a scientist with the empathy of a novelist, she scatters profound and often difficult truths through these generous, wise, challenging pages.”--Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree
“Yiyun Li has written a remarkable account of her literary life, begun in her youth in China with the books that first engaged her in the great conversations of literature. In her own emergence as an important and gifted writer in English she has brought a new voice to that great world. She has also been, in the deepest sense, sustained by it. Her new book is a meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life.”--Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead
“Literature, national identity versus the individual self, the clash of public and private, the mysterious nature of relationship, indeed, human nature itself--these subjects and more are explored with remarkable subtlety and rare, limpid mental beauty. A must-read for anyone trying to stay sane in a world that might be perceived as insane.”--Mary Gaitskill, author of The Mare
“This extraordinary book is the story of a writer being made and making herself. It is the story of depression coming in waves and being beaten back through love and stubbornness. And also it is one of our finest writers scrutinizing the books that have mattered most to her.”--Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life
“Reading Yiyun Li feels like being inside a mind--a quietly forceful, unrelenting mind. Within the limits of language, which she all but touches, she unfolds an argument with the self. She is suspicious of the very concept of the self, but she does not, ultimately, refuse its possibilities. ‘What a long way it is from one life to another,’ she writes, while closing that space.”--Eula Biss, author of On Immunity
A luminous memoir from the award-winning author of The Vagrants and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
'What a long way it is from one life to another. Yet why write if not for that distance?'
Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a memoir of a life lived with books. Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living.Li grew up in China, her mother suffering from mental illness, and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, an immigrant, a mother - and through it all, she has been sustained by a deep connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Kierkegaard and Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together. Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live? Dear Friend is a beautiful, interior exploration of selfhood and a journey of recovery through literature.
À l'aube du 19 mars 1979, la petite ville de Rivière-Fangeuse est en ébullition : après dix ans de prison, Gu Shan, une ancienne garde rouge, va être exécutée. Son crime ? Avoir douté du parti. Et la mort n'est pas le pire de ce qu'elle va devoir subir. Cet événement va avoir des répercussions sur ses concitoyens : le professeur Gu, son père, un intellectuel qui se réfugie dans le passé pour échapper à un monde qu'il ne comprend plus, et son épouse, jusque-là humble et soumise, qui va relever la tête pour défendre sa fille ; Bashi, un adolescent tourmenté qui noue une relation improbable avec Nini, une petite infirme affamée ; Kai, voix officielle du parti, qui va sacrifier famille et carrière pour l'amour d'un dissident ; et bien d'autres... Cruauté d'une société déboussolée, où l'idéologie marxiste n'a pas effacé les vieilles superstitions, où les liens familiaux sont rongés par la misère et l'endoctrinement, où l'implacable machine à décerveler n'en finit plus de broyer les individus qui tentent de résister.