Bich Minh Nguyen & Yiyun Li - Pioneer Girl & Kinder Than Solitude

Bich Minh Nguyen’s previous books—the acclaimed memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner and the American Book Award-winning novel Short Girls—established her talents as a writer of keen cultural observation. In Pioneer Girl, Nguyen entwines the Asian American experience with the escapist pleasures of literature, in a dazzling mystery about the origins of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic Little House on the Prairie.

Lee Lien has long dodged her Vietnamese family’s rigid expectations by immersing herself in books. But now, jobless with a PhD in literature, she is back at home, working in her family’s restaurant under her mother’s hypercritical gaze—until an heirloom from their past sends Lee on a search for clues that may lead back to Wilder herself, transforming strangers’ lives as well as her own.

In Kinder Than Solitude, Yiyun Li tells the story of three people who, when young, were involved in a mysterious "accident" in which a friend of theirs was poisoned. Now grown up, the three friends are separated by time and distancewith two of them living in the United States and the other in Chinaand haunted by uncertainty and doubt about themselves and whether what happened to Shaoai was really "an accident." With her signature mesmerizing prose and brilliant, philosophical understanding of the joys and aches of the human heart, Li unfolds the mystery of what happened that day, and the power of the past to shape our present and future.

Bich Minh Nguyen (who goes by Beth) teaches literature and creative writing in the Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their two children.

Yiyun Li is the author of 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 a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the Whiting Writers' Award, and the Guardian First Book Award. Granta named her one of the best American novelists under thirty-five, and The New Yorker named her one of twenty U.S. writers under forty to watch. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at the University of California, Davis.