Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

Yiyun Li

The stories in this collection, like the stories in A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, are mostly set in China. The country portrayed here is the China of the 21st century, where economic development has led to new situations unknown to previous decades: residents in a shabby apartment building witnessing in awe the real estate boom; a local entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist sheltering women in trouble in her mansion; a group of retired women discovering fame late in their lives as private investigators specialising in extramarital affairs; a young woman setting up a blog to publicise the alleged affair of her father. Underneath the veneer of prosperity and opportunity, however, lie the struggles of characters trying to reorient themselves in the unfamiliar landscapes of modern China: a widower, reminiscing about his wife, confronts a young unmarried woman purchasing condoms in a pharmacy; a new wife makes a plea to have a baby with her husband who was to be executed only to discover that she has become an instant celebrity; a middle-aged couple in America, who, upon losing their only daughter, return to their hometown in China to hire a young woman as a surrogate mother. These characters’ fates are affected as much by the historical moments in which they reside as by the choices they make. Yiyun Li’s new collection of stories is a report from the front-line of a changing world, and confirms Li to be a writer not to be missed.

Reviews of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

    • Chosen as a Book of the Year by AS Byatt and Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian, and by the Sunday Times.
    • ‘Li was named by Granta as one of the best writers under 35, and she’s fabulous – nobody else has such an instinct for the tension between tradition and modernity…Modern China convulsed by progress, is wonderfully evoked.’ Times
    • ‘To read any one of these stories is to receive proof of Li’s mastery. They are exquisitely made, and function with a vast, metronomic precision that eschews anything inessential.’ Independent on Sunday
    • ‘Yiyun Li’s beautifully crafted Munro-like stories of loss and betrayal show the human cost of living in a changing world.’ Sunday Times
    • ‘Comparisons to Chekov and to William Trevor hold true … Li is an exceptional writer.’ Sunday Telegraph
    • ‘From its start you are reading in the presence of a bracingly clarified mind which produces prose of the utmost sparseness’ Scotsman
    • ‘Attuned to every nuance of sadness, Li writes delicately about death, brutality and leave-taking’ Independent