Kinder Than Solitude

Yiyun Li

When Moran, Ruyu, and Boyang were young, they were involved in a mysterious ‘accident’ in which a young woman was poisoned. Now grown up, the three friends are separated by this incident, and by time and distance. Boyang stayed in China, while Moran and Ruyu emigrated to the United States. All three remain haunted by what really happened.

A breathtaking page-turner, Kinder Than Solitude resonates with provocative observations about human nature and the virtues of loyalty. In mesmerizing prose, and with profound philosophical insight, Yiyun Li unfolds this remarkable story, even as she explores the impact of personality and the past on the shape of a person’s present and future.

Reviews of Kinder Than Solitude

    • ‘The surface of Yiyun Li’s prose is deceptively still, but just beneath the surface is the sadness, pain and tragedy of three lives … Her characters are portrayed with a harsh beauty, and one’s emotions become deeply engaged with their fates … This is an exceptional novel and Yiyun Li has grown into one of our major novelists.’ Salman Rushdie
    • ‘This riveting novel from our leading fictional informant on latterday China is a masterly investigation of personal and social damage wrought by the country’s recent history.’ Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Books of the Year
    • ‘Bold and unsettling … The messiness of the human condition is presented in all its complexity, with moral judgment often suspended in favour of a more nuanced probing of the way people respond to turbulent times … A finely wrought novel that never shrinks from laying bare the messiness and fragility of the human condition.’ Tash Aw, Financial Times
    • ‘Yiyun Li has produced a thrilling mystery in “Kinder Than Solitude”’ Sunday Telegraph
    • ‘A fine, taut Beijing novel’ James Lasdun, Guardian
    • ‘A stunning, dark, and beautiful book. Yiyun Li writes with characteristic genius and hard, clear-eyed insight about characters ravaged by family and culture … Tragic and true and soul-wrenching … The reader’s own heart feels exposed, fragile, and all the more precious for having taken part in Li’s mysterious, artful novel.’ Paul Harding, author of ‘Tinkers and Enon’
    • ‘I can’t remember the last time I read a novel at once so relentless and elegant, so precise and ranging … A search light, blazing into every dark corner of its characters’ psyches, and ours. I couldn’t look away.’ Ayana Mathis, author of ‘The Twelve Tribes of Hattie’