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 specializing in extramarital affairs; a young woman setting up a blog to publicize an 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 frontline of a changing world, and confirms Li to be an unmissable writer.

Reviews of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

    • “Li is extraordinary . . . a storyteller of the first order . . . each tale in this collection is as wild and beautiful and thorny as a heart. . . Li inhabits the lives of her characters with such force and compassion that one one cannot help but marvel at her remarkable talents.” Junot Díaz
    • “This is work that lasts. These sly women, punished men, these worried, worrying, surprising characters are held aloft and illuminated in Yiyun Li’s strong and magical prose.” Amy Bloom
    • “In the most dismal circumstances and the most unlikely subjects: the old, the forgotten, the bookish, the unattractive; Yiyun Li has the rare ability to conjure hope. She writes with precision and delicacy about the Chinese diaspora and about the new China and in doing so, she writes about us all.” Mona Simpson