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’, winner of the Paris Review prize, 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.