Thursday, December 07, 2006

Yiyun's Story

I'm cheering because Yiyun Li has won the Guardian First Book Award for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. The prize is only the latest in a long list of awards the book has received - and deservedly so in my opinion. (Here's an extract from the first story in the book.)

Aida Edemariam interviews the writer in the Guardian - and her story is quite amazing: five years ago she struggling to learn to write in English in a US adult education class!

And I like the point she makes about not wanting to create an "exotic Asia" in her stories.
I think that happens, and I'm aware of it. But I don't buy it. I don't write for that reason. I'm not going to satisfy people's curiosity about exotic China, or exotic Asians. If I write a story, I write a story. I have to make sure it's a good story, and that I don't take any short cuts because it's about China. I feel I have a lot of Chinese stories I need to tell.
And I for one am looking forward to reading them.

Sarah Crown on the Guardian blog is rejoicing too:
For most of the second half of the 20th-century, short stories languished in literary no man's land - not long enough to qualify as "proper" novels, too long to pack poetry's punch. In recent years, however, they have enjoyed a much documented renaissance. It seems to me, when I look back over books that have come out over the last couple of years, that those which linger in my mind and that I've recommended again and again to friends have almost all been short story collections.


Lydia Teh said...

Wowee! Long live the short story. Mmm.. perhaps I should try my hand at it. It's less daunting than a novel.

sympozium said...

Congratulations to the author. I bought the book 2 days ago at Kinokuniya. Looking forward to reading it.

Sharon, DO get The Laws of Evening, the short story collection by Mary Yukari Waters.

lil ms d said...

clap clap clap!

bibliobibuli said...

lydia - but in a sense more difficult too. in a novel you have space. in a short story every single word counts.

sympozium - consider it ordered. glad you bought li's book.

The Visitor said...

i get really annoyed when ppl write their names in the "western" style, ie. Yiyun Li instead of Li Yiyun.

the same with Jap names, eg. Haruki Murakami, and not Murakami Haruki.

Asians place a lot of importance on the family name, but when it comes to the west, our names are always twisted around, sometimes the owner of the name does her or his own twisting, and thats doubly annoying.

when mat salleh names are mentioned in Asia, we don't say "King Stephen" or "Dickens Charles", do we?

btw, i'm not scolding you, Miss Biblio, in case you think i am. :)

lil ms d said...

eesh ms bibs

that organic lunch has made my runs worse. i'm crapping for africa now.

but there's work to be done ;) so let's get cracking!

bibliobibuli said...

visitor - you can't scold me 'cos it ain't my fault. but i guess she's done it so that her book ends up shelved under her family name in the bookshops.

yes, the west expects everyone to conform to their standards.

ms d - admit it, you're just scared of healthy vegetables.

Anonymous said...

She doesn't write abour Asia, or she can't ? what does an American (who lives in America) know about Asia anyway ? :)

Jen said...

anonymous: Yiyun Li's not American.

bibliobibuli said...

anon - yes, go read the links. the poor woman can't even get her green card.

The Visitor said...

ah, i see what u mean. otherwise, her book would be shelved under Y.