A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

Yiyun Li

In this extraordinary first collection, Yiyun Li brings us a modern China facing up to a complex history of repression and guilt. In ‘Immortality’, a young man bears a striking resemblance to the dictator, and so finds a strange kind of calling. In ‘Extra’, first published in the New Yorker, a Chinese woman, alone in middle age, befriends a young boy who has become an outcast in a remote country school. In their friendship, we see how love can begin to overcome the strictures that dominate their lives.

In turn horrifying and breathtakingly lyrical, Yiyun Li, a new and talented young Chinese writer, confronts the silence that dominated the history of her country, and illuminates how mythology, politics, history and culture intersect with personality. She leaves us with an enduring vision of a country undergoing tremendous change.

Reviews of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

    • ‘Li’s writing is beautifully spare and controlled.’ Times
    • ‘Yiyun’s confidence as a storyteller lends her fiction a traditional air, but there’s nothing old fashioned about her perspective…When I’ve sampled other recent Chinese writing, I’ve had a sense of western publishers being seduced by the novelty of it all, snapping up authors with dramatic histories and slim talents. Yiyun is the real deal…Yiyun has the talent, the vision and the respect for life’s insoluble mysteries to be a truly fine writer.’ Guardian
    • ‘Great narrative skill…demonstrates that the best way to learn about people in a foreign culture is through good fiction.’ Irish Times
    • ‘Li has a remarkable talent for telling the story of the whole of China through apparently insignificant lives.’ New Statesman
    • ‘These mesmerising stories present a glimpse of modern China more nuanced than any reporter could ever hope to gleam.’ Daily Mail
    • ‘Li’s moving, engrossing stories are particular in their place…but universal in their themes and their relevance.’ The Observer
    • ‘If you have ever wondered what life is like in modern China, but can’t afford the airfare and lessons in Mandarin, you should read this book. In fact if you haven’t given China a second thought, this is a collection of stories worth reading.’ Impac News