Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

Yiyun Li, Random, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6813-5
The nine brilliant stories in Li's collection (after The Vagrants) offer a frighteningly lucid vision of human fate. In the title story, motherless Siyu has long been in love with an older zoology professor, Dai, who suddenly wants Siyu, 38 and single, to marry Dai's gay 42-year-old son, Hanfeng. In "A Man Like Him," retired art teacher Fei embarks on a strange quest after reading a story about a Web site devoted to shaming a man who left his wife. Fei seeks out the man, needing to confide to him his own sordid brush with infamy. The collection's magnificent centerpiece is "Kindness," the novella-length reminiscence of a spiritually despondent math teacher named Moyan, whose bleak story begins with the emotional starvation she suffered from her adoptive parents and grimly continues over the years as two older women—an English teacher and Moyan's army superior—attempt, unsuccessfully, to reach out to her. Li's description of army life, and particularly her description of Moyan's regiment's march across Mount Dabi, is a bravura piece of writing, but it's Moyan's evolution from pitiable to borderline heroic (in her own way) that is Li's greatest achievement. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/10/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4618-2636-1
Paperback - 235 pages - 978-0-8129-8015-8
Open Ebook - 138 pages - 978-0-679-60406-8
Hardcover - 221 pages - 978-0-00-730312-0
Paperback - 221 pages - 978-0-00-730310-6
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