Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"The Science of Flight" by Yiyun Li (2010)

Yiyun Li is a wonderful, highly successful writer.  I have previously posted on her novel The Vagrants and one of her short stories.  This morning I read her very excellent short story in the anthology 20 Under 40:  Stories from The New Yorker, "The Science of Flight" centering on the life of a woman from China who has been living in the USA for many years, divorced and working in a lab that does experiments on animals.   Her mother disgraced the family by having her without being married.  She was abandoned by both parents and raised by her widowed grandmother.   She is close to two men who work in the lab, as friends only, and every year she goes back to China and she falsely tells them it is to visit her parents.   She married a man she met only twice as he was going to America and would take her along.  He was to pursue a phd in mathematics.   They divorced after two years.  Everything about the woman's life is considered in her culture a failure, she illegitimate, marriage ended childless in divorce and she has a job way below her intellect. She hides from her coworkers her ability to read Latin.  Li really takes us deeply into the mind of the woman.  The prose is elegant.  I hope to read more of her work.

Official biography

The Vagrants


Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996. Her stories and essays have been published in The New YorkerBest American Short StoriesO Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from Lannan Foundation and Whiting Foundation. Her debut collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction; it was also shortlisted for Kiriyama Prize and Orange Prize for New Writers. Her novel, The Vagrants, won the gold medal of California Book Award for fiction. She was selected by Granta as one of the 21 Best Young American Novelists under 35, and was named by The New Yorker as one of the top 20 writers under 40. MacArthur Foundation named her a 2010 fellow. She is a contributing editor to the Brooklyn-based literary magazine, A Public Space. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband and their two sons, and teaches at University of California, Davis.

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