Yi Yun Li on Villages, Ghosts, and William Trevor

From the Vault: Yiyun Li | Tin House.

Yiyun Li’s engrossing essay on village literature, William Trevor, and family ghosts from Tin House. My favorite quote: “It was the mid-1970s, and Beijing was a village the size of a metropolis.” Funnily, it still feels that way sometimes.

For those who do not know Li, she is the Beijing-born writer and novelist (The Vagrants), a professor of English at my alma mater, UC Davis, and is a 2010 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. She has been named one of America’s top 20 writers under age 40 by the editors of The New Yorker.

Li’s stories capture the essence of Beijing better than anyone I know who is writing in the English language. Stories like “Alone,” and “Gold Boy, Emerald Girl” will give you an idea of how effortlessly she pulls you into her stories, and how subtly she conveys the rhythms and tiny tragedies that mark life in China.

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