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 23, 2014

"Alone" by Yiyun Li (November 16, 2009, from The New Yorker) -A Short Story by the Winner of the 2005 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize

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

The Vagrants


Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996. 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. Her novel, The Vagrants, won the gold medal of California Book Award for fiction, and was shortlisted for Dublin IMPAC Award. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, her second collection, was a finalist of Story Prize and shortlisted for Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Kinder Than Solitude, her latest novel, was published to critical acclaim. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Yiyun Li has received numerous awards, including Whiting Award, Lannan Foundation Residency fellow, 2010 MacArthur Foundation fellow, and 2014 Benjamin H. Danks Award from American Academy of Arts and Letters, among others. 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. 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.



Anonymous said...

Great idea - searching the New Yorker for O'Connor winners. Thanks. I do want to read more Yiyun Li.

Mel u said... Thanks for the comment. I really like the work of Yiyun Li