Gold Boy, Emerald Girl--Yiyun Li

Despite tremendous misgivings, I forced myself to finish Yiyun Li's most recent book Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, and now I must lament that I shall be Li-less for some unknown length of time while she prepares her next work for our delectation and delight.  And I do not use those words lightly in this case.  Every story, every line, every lineament, every breath, every character, every scene is etched in such lucid detail, such brilliant highlighting, that they come to life and play out their brief existence on the stage of the mind.

Unlike the second collections of luminaries like Jhumpa Lahiri, I did not see in these stories the abandonment of the central concerns of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and The Vagrants.  She still loves the people she writes about.  Characters who start out as extremely unlikeable, are gradually revealed to be ordinary people, whose ordinary concerns have so shaped them as to make them unapproachable.

Each story ends on a luminous note that I am reluctant to refer to as an epiphany. It isn't an epiphany because it isn't necessarily an experience of the character, but a light dawning on the reader.  It makes the stories essentially unexcerptable, because what you most want to share is what you least desire to reveal.

Yiyun Li continues to be my favorite writer of recent date.  I am sorry to have finished this book because it means that for a time, I will only be able to visit favorites and I will be bereft of anything new.  That may be very highest praise one can give a writer--I took a month to finish the book because I was so reluctant to leave your presence.

Highest recommendation *****


  1. You have persuaded me: I will now seek out a copy at the library or bookstore.

    I, too, have encountered writers that cause me agony because I must be satisfied with their limited output. Oh, how I wish there were more Flannery O'Connor. There should have been more from Willa Cather. I cannot get enough of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. And--to give a tip of the hat to writers who produce my "guilty pleasures"--I wish there were more Morse novels from Colin Dexter, and more Rumpole tales from John Mortimer.

    So, without any more delay, I must seek out Yiyun Li.


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