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A thousand years of good prayers : stories
Yiyun Li
Adult Fiction LI, YIY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A beautifully executed debut collection of 10 stories explores the ravages of the Cultural Revolution on modern Chinese, both in China and America. "Extra" portrays the grim plight of Granny Lin, an elderly widow without a pension, whose job as a maid at a boarding school outside Beijing leads to a surprising friendship with one of her young charges, Kang. Li deftly weaves a political message into her human portraits: young Kang, the son of a powerful man and his now "disfavored" first wife, is an "extra"-that is, as useless in the new society as Granny Lin has become. A hollowed-out recluse in the collective apartment block of "Death Is Not a Bad Joke If Told the Right Way," Mr. Pang-once denounced by his work colleagues as being "a dog son of the evil landlord class"-still appears daily at a job where he is no longer even paid, and spends his home life counting grains of rice on his chopsticks. Even the charmed fatherless boy of "Immortality," his face so like Chairman Mao's that he's chosen to be the dictator's impersonator after Mao's death, falls from favor eventually, ending his days as a self-castrated parasite. These are powerful stories that encapsulate tidily epic grief and longing. Agent, Richard Abate. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Yiyun Li's stories have been published in The New Yorker and garnered her the Plimpton Prize for New Writers. Her debut collection creates intimate scenes of life in a China in transition, a subject she knows personally as a Beijing native (she immigrated to the United States in 1996). Traditional ways adapt to a proscribed Communist way and adapt again for the newly capitalistic society. In the opening story, "Extra," Granny, a single woman of 50, retires involuntarily, finds menial work at a children's school, and develops a close maternal relationship with a lonely young boy. "After a Life" looks at the Su family's attachment to their mentally retarded and severely handicapped daughter and how this affects the parents' marriage and relationship with their son. "Son" tells the story of a young man who, on a visit from the United States, tells his mother that he is gay. In "Persimmons," villagers discuss the heroism of Lao Da. No matter the theme-be it human redundancy in an overpopulated country or the complex nature of the parent-child relationship-these stories are complex, moving, and surprising. Highly recommended for all academic and public libraries.-Rebecca Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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