In conversation with Michael David Lukas
In her first nonfiction book, Yiyun Li explores the questions we ask ourselves each and every day: How does one make life livable? How do writing and reading bring us solace, and help us embrace the conflicts of our daily reality? Li reflects on the writers who have shaped her – William Trevor, Katherine Mansfield, Marianne Moore, Ivan Turgenev, Stefan Zweig, and more, and on her life, from China to America, and from biologist to writer. Written over two years while Li battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a brilliant, moving and richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living.
In Li’s own words, her book was written “out of willingness and willfulness: willingness to acknowledge what shapes us—national history, family history, language, heritage—is not within our control, willfulness to defy any definition imposed by those external terms; willingness to make peace with diagnoses and to live without answers or resolutions, willfulness to not give up questioning.”
She writes, “I hope that readers find these essays sympathetic and resonating because they touch upon what we all struggle to put into words or articulate sometimes; that they are left with a sense that the book is about their feelings and perceptions and struggles rather than mine.”
Shining with quiet wisdom, this a startlingly original and honest account of a life lived with books.
Yiyun Li is the author of four works of fiction: Kinder Than Solitude, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, The Vagrants, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl. A native of Beijing and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is the recipient of many awards. In 2007, Granta named her one of the best American novelists under thirty-five. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among others. She teaches writing at the University of California, Davis, and lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and their two sons.
In her first memoir, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li offers a journey of recovery through literature: a letter from a writer to like-minded readers.
"A meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life."--Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead
"What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance?"