If one day you are looking for quality new to you short stories one very good place to start is by looking in the archives of The New Yorker for works by winners of the annual Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize. I was happy to find some stories by Yiyun Li in the archives. Yiyun Li won in 2005 for her debut collection of stories A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. I have previously read and posted on several of her short stories and one of her novels, Vagrants. I also read but did not post on Kinder Than Solitude. Most of her work is either set in China or deals with experiences
of Chinese born immigrants to America. A deep sense of sadness and aloneness permeates her work, a sense you will never really be understood.
My main purpose in this post is to journalise my reading of the story and to let others know it can be read in the archives of The New Yorker for a little while.
The story centers on a woman originally from Bejing now living in the American Pacific Northwest. Her husband of sixteen years, now back in Bejing, has filed for a divorce and she recently returned the papers. She is on a road trip alone to Vancouver, a forest fire is threatening towns. She thinks now her husband can go to hostess bars in Bejings with his clients and not feel guilty. She cannot escape a terrible tragedy she experienced at age twelve. I just cannot reveal this as it would spoil the experience of first time readers. It will make you ponder how having such an event, kept secret for decades, even from her husband, impacted her consciousness. As the father of teenage girls, it made me think very hard to try to understand the tragedy.
This is a suberbly told story. I will be reading all of the Yiyun Li stories in the archives.
You can read the story here
From author's webpage