Official bio from author's web page
If you want to read stories by the very best contemporary writers, one decent idea is Frank O'Connor International Short Story winners works. Yiyun Li won in 2005 for her debut collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. I have previously posted on her superb novel The Vagrants and some of her short stories, all set either in contemporary China or related settings.
"Love in the Market Place" is set in Beijing. It centers on a female school teacher. She loves the movie Casablanca and plays it for every class. I love that movie also and I liked the teacher once I read that. She thinks the movie has strong ethical lessons to teach about keeping your promises. Ten years ago she was jilted by a man who ended up moving to America with another woman. She is completely single. I liked her even more when I learned her only real comfort in life were a small collection of classic novels, "works one could spend a life time studying", she bought in college. Her mother makes hard boiled eggs and sells them in a train station, she has been doing this for forty years. She prides her self on the care she takes to make the very best of hard boiled eggs. Her daughter tells her why bother no one will take notice. Her mother has big news for her. The man who jilted her ten years ago is now divorced and is back in town. Her mother pushes her to throw her self at the man. She resists. The conversations between mother and daughter are brilliant.
The ending is remarkable, for some strange reason it made me think of Kafka's "The Hunger Artist". The ending perplexed and disturbed me as I struggled to take it in. This is a great short story. I will post on more of her work, I hope.