Synopses & Reviews
In her first memoir, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li offers a journey of recovery through literature: a letter from a writer to like-minded readers.
"A meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life." — Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead
"What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance?"
Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a luminous account of a life lived with books. Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living.
Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, a mother, a daughter — and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Søren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together.
Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live?
"Literature, national identity versus the individual self, the clash of public and private, the mysterious nature of relationship, indeed, human nature itself — these subjects and more are explored with remarkable subtlety and rare, limpid mental beauty. A must-read for anyone trying to stay sane in a world that might be perceived as insane." Mary Gaitskill, author of The Mare
"In this exquisite, intimate, lyrical memoir, Yiyun Li reveals her life in flashes appended to an arrestingly coherent philosophy of time, self, and place. Uniting the discipline of a scientist with the empathy of a novelist, she scatters profound and often difficult truths through these generous, wise, challenging pages." Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree
"Yiyun Li has written a remarkable account of her literary life, begun in her youth in China with the books that first engaged her in the great conversations of literature. In her own emergence as an important and gifted writer in English she has brought a new voice to that great world. She has also been, in the deepest sense, sustained by it. Her new book is a meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life." Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead
About the Author
Yiyun Li is the author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and The Vagrants. A native of Beijing and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is the recipient of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the Whiting Writers’ Award, and the Guardian First Book Award. In 2007, Granta named her one of the best American novelists under thirty-five. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among others. She teaches writing at the University of California, Davis, and lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and their two sons.