Li, Yiyun 1972–

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Li, Yiyun 1972–

PERSONAL: Born 1972, in Beijing, China; immigrated to United States, 1996; married; children: two sons. Education: Peking University, B.A.; University of Iowa, M.F.A., M.S.

ADDRESSES: Home—Oakland, CA. Office—Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: University of Iowa, Ames, teaching fellow; Mills College, Oakland, CA, assistant professor of English, 2005–.

AWARDS, HONORS: Plimpton Prize for New Writers, Paris Review, 2005, for short story "Immortality"; Pushcart Prize, 2005.


A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (short stories), Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor of fiction and memoir to periodicals, including New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Paris Review.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel about a Chinese community in the 1970s.

SIDELIGHTS: Yiyun Li was born in China and came to the United States in 1996, having only a limited command of English at that time. By 1998, however, she began writing in English, and soon was enrolled in two writing programs at the University of Iowa. An essay she wrote about the massacre of students by Chinese forces in Tiananmen Square was published and brought her some attention, and soon her fiction and nonfiction was appearing in such prestigious publications as the New Yorker, Paris Review, and Ploughshares. The ten stories in Li's first book, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, explore the effects of the Cultural Revolution on modern Chinese people, both those living in their homeland and those who have moved to America. In one story, a pair of immigrants are watching a Christmas parade in Chicago, envying all those around them who have been un-touched by tragic historical events. In another story, a Chinese peasant is called to account by the Office of Birth Control for having too many children. Later, when his son is drowned by a government official, the man goes on a killing spree. According to a Kirkus Reviews writer, there is some "ungainly plotting but the author is one to watch." A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated: "These are powerful stories that encapsulate tidily epic grief and longing."



Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, p. 704.

M2 Best Books, February 19, 2004, "First Plimpton Prize Winner Announced,"

Publishers Weekly, June 27, 2005, review of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, p. 39.


University of Iowa Web site, (September 20, 2005).