Sunday 22 February 2015

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

(February 2015)

I really think that Yiyun Li might be my favourite short story writer, and it’s not like that’s a field where competition is thin on the ground. As with Gold Boy, Emerald Girl I find myself fruitlessly casting around for something intelligent to say in order to express just how good this is, and failing utterly. GB,EG might just shade it, to be honest, but that’s such a high bar that even coming close enough to fall short is a significant achievement.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to go down my usual cop-out route of giving you a quote and leaving it at that. It’s not like she’s a particularly obscure writer so if you’re interested (and you should be) a quick Google search will let you know what’s in store. Worth also noting that she’s recently released a new novel, and so the To Be Read pile increases by one…

The sky has been a bright blue desert since spring. The sun rises every morning, a bright white disc growing larger and hotter every day. Cicadas drawl halfheartedly in the trees. The reservoir outside the village has shrunken into a bathtub for the boys, peeing at one another in the waist deep water. Two girls, four or five, stand by the main road, their bare arms waving like desperate wings of baby birds as they chant to the motionless air, “Come the east wind. Come the west wind. Come the east-west-north-south wind and cool my armpits.”

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