Author Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend a remarkable feat of prose and understanding

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By Mike Cormack

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life
by Yiyun Li
Random House

This is a remarkable book, both as memoir and as Yiyun Li’s disavowal of the possibility of writing one. Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life explores the formation of the literary mind behind the novel The Vagrants (2009) and short-story collection A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2005), and is seared with the pain and difficulties of such an under­taking. (If you ever wish to dissuade a child from pursuing a literary career, this book will do it).

As a memoir Dear Friend is neither sequential in progression nor narrative in form – nor is it organised by theme. Rather, slivers of anecdote and memory are developed into short musings, equivocation and pitiless self-excoriation (at one point Li notes, “The moment that I enters my narrative my confidence crumbles” – an extra­ordinary admission for a memoirist). She also discusses writers and their signifi­cance in her life, her writing and to her understanding of time, memory and loss. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post

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