Yiyun Li's Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
delivers stark, hushed stories that shift between China and America, depicting characters on the cusp: in "Prison" Yilan and Luo's unborn children face a future with either their westernized biological parents or a young, illiterate Chinese woman who is serving as their surrogate mother; in "Number Three, Garden Road" a woman musters the courage to pursue a relationship with a man old enough to be her father; in "Souvenir" a young woman purchases an item that alters an old man's memory of his deceased wife.
Li's characters are caught in the shifting political landscape of China as much as they are in the changing worlds of their own private lives. Frequently, these two separate worlds become inseparable. In "The Proprietress" a reporter questions a young woman who petitioned to have a baby with her incarcerated husband before his...
Beyond the Book
Many of Yiyun Li's stories revolve around her childhood home of Beijing, China's capital city. Beijing (meaning Northern Capital) is one of China's four great ancient capitals, alongside Nanjing (meaning Southern Capital), Xi'an (meaning Western Peace) and Luoyang (known during the Tang dynasty as Dongdu, meaning Eastern Capital).
While the total population of the Beijing area is almost on a par with Shanghai's 19 million, it resists the frantic, hurried pace of its coastal counterpart. The city is crossed by several rivers and is also the northern terminus of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand...