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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yiyun Li

How'd you like to be a MacArthur Genius? What're the qualifications? I dunno, it's all very secret and anonymous. Each year, the MacArthur Fellowship awards twenty to forty people "who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." The winners receive $500,000 and a lot of congratulatory phone calls. Proving how much I don't know about the world, the only name I recognize from the past few years' winners is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2008).

This year there's a Chinese American writer on the list, Yiyun Li, and she's already been having a banner year as she was named one of The New Yorker's 20 under 40 a few months ago. I read her story, The Science of Flight, but haven't read any of her other stuff yet. I'm pretty sure the best place to start is with A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, which was her debut book of short stories. Li immigrated from China in 1996 and received her MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa, and a fiction MFA from the Iowa Writers' Worskshop. She's now a professor at UC Davis and it must be amazing to be her student. Maybe I'll try to crash a class. Wanna join?

It looks like Li's currently on tour for her new book, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, and you can check her site for all the tour dates and locations.
"Li's stories are typically set in her native China and she wields a darkness and weightiness of tone that she has used to carve out a place for herself among the broader community of first generation immigrant writers."
-The Millions, "2010's Literary Geniuses"-


Tarie said...

Woot! Thanks for introducing me to this author. :o)

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