Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, By Yiyun Li

 

Yiyun Li emigrated from Beijing to study medicine in the US, but instead graduated from the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Her memorable debut collection of stories, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, was followed by an award-winning novel, The Vagrants.

In this second collection, she follows characters, young and old, as they try to re-orient themselves in a post-revolutionary world. Attuned to every nuance of sadness, Li writes delicately about death, brutality and leave-taking.

In "Prison" a couple try to get over their grief for a dead daughter by hiring a surrogate mother, while in the title story an older couple try to decide whether a union will "make one another less sad". Modern China is portrayed as a series of "dormant" towns steeped in "big tragedies and small losses".

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