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A Thousand Years of Good Prayers: Stories (2005)

by Yiyun Li

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In A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Yiyun Li shows the reader ten short vignettes about life in modern China and in Chinese-American communities. There are common themes including the role of family in an ever-changing society and how people come to terms with the aftermath of Mao.

Li writes using spare and controlled language which helps emphasise the often bleak conditions her characters inhabit. Li does not spare the reader's feelings and portrays the post-Mao era as full of confusion and often despair.

These stories show a promising start to Li's career and show a different face to the ever-changing China one hears and sees so much of. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
Short stories set in China and the midwest United States. Topics: castration, suffering marriage, mental retardation, frigidity, crowded living conditions, death of a child, gender issues, murder, estranged children. Hopelessness. Nope - too much hopelessness for me to enjoy this read. ( )
  countrylife | Jan 24, 2012 |
Each of these stories has a common backdrop - political and cultural upheaval in China and among Chinese Americans. However, the stories themselves are much more personal than this indicates - a close up snapshot of the lives that are affected by these changes. In just a few pages, Li provides an intimate portrait of these lives, and in doing so, writes the story of a nation as well. The writing is beautiful, but not overdone. An excellent collection of short stories. ( )
1 vote porch_reader | Jan 29, 2011 |
Rural and small town life struggling with economic change illustrated through short stories.
  goneal | Oct 16, 2010 |
Collection of short stories about life in modern China. It shows how although China is changing, it is still permeated by its traditions and shaped by its recent history. ( )
  alalba | May 9, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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It's not easy to shut up in America. They value you not by what's inside you, but by what's pouring out of your mouth.
Women in their marriageable twenties and early thirties are like lychees that have been picked from the tree; each passing day makes them less fresh and less desirable, and only too soon will they lose their value, and have to be gotten rid of at a sale price.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 081297333X, Paperback)

Brilliant and original, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers introduces a remarkable new writer whose breathtaking stories are set in China and among Chinese Americans in the United States. In this rich, astonishing collection, Yiyun Li illuminates how mythology, politics, history, and culture intersect with personality to create fate. From the bustling heart of Beijing, to a fast-food restaurant in Chicago, to the barren expanse of Inner Mongolia, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers reveals worlds both foreign and familiar, with heartbreaking honesty and in beautiful prose.

“Immortality,” winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for new writers, tells the story of a young man who bears a striking resemblance to a dictator and so finds a calling to immortality. In “The Princess of Nebraska,” a man and a woman who were both in love with a young actor in China meet again in America and try to reconcile the lost love with their new lives.

“After a Life” illuminates the vagaries of marriage, parenthood, and gender, unfolding the story of a couple who keep a daughter hidden from the world. And in “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” in which a man visits America for the first time to see his recently divorced daughter, only to discover that all is not as it seems, Li boldly explores the effects of communism on language, faith, and an entire people, underlining transformation in its many meanings and incarnations.

These and other daring stories form a mesmerizing tapestry of revelatory fiction by an unforgettable writer.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Brillian and original, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers introduces a remarkable first collection of stories about China from an author set to become a major literary talent.

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