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In this prize-winning collection of short stories, Yiyun Li brings us a modern China facing up to a complex history of repression and guilt....

Title : A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007196630
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 205 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers Reviews

  • Milan/zzz
    2018-10-11 15:48

    I finished this book and I have mixed feelings. Not because the stories are bad. On the contrary, they are quite good. What bothered me is that almost aggressive anti-communistic attitude. There is one sentence where old Iranian woman says "I love China. China a good country, very old" and that would be pretty much everything said positive about China (and that comes from the mouth of Iranian woman who never visited the country she's talking about!).I don't have doubts that communism in China was quite different than communism in ex Yugoslavia (where I grew up) and therefore all those rigidness Yiyun Li is talking about is unfamiliar to me. Indeed here, there was blindness as well and rigidness and it possibly was dangerous to criticize regime but it was nothing like it has been described in this book.I just couldn't get rid of the thoughts that author is living in the USA, is publishing book (which probably is in high percentage truth. An awful truth!) where is criticizing horribly something about huge majority of Americans (or Western world in general) don't have a clue but they "know" it's VERY bad; book about the country not very popular in the USA; book with lot black/white comparison between China and America (of course China is always and only black while America is promised land and everything about it is absolutely fantastic). She used the language and topic that will find very fertile soil in America. She described China as a hell from which every thinking Chinese wants to leave. Again, that might be truth but there must be something good there; or at least some respect about the heritage the ones who fled to America brought with themselves. But then, she's not mentioning that. And that thought has had big influence in my general opinion about the book.As I said the stories are very good but if I'm an immigrant and a writer I doubt I'd be able to write this type of book about my mother land. Maybe that's not something I should be proud of but I simply couldn't neglect part I love.

  • Solistas
    2018-10-06 20:49

    "[...]αν έχεις μεγαλώσει με μια γλώσσα που δεν τη χρησιμοποιούσες ποτέ για να εκφράσεις τα συναισθήματά σου, είναι πολύ πιο εύκολο, μαθαίνοντας μια νέα γλώσσα, να μιλάς περισσότερο σ'αυτήν. Είναι σαν να γίνεσαι κάποιος άλλος"Το παραπάνω απόσπασμα απ'το ομώνυμο διήγημα της πρώτης συλλογής της Γίγεν Λι, αποτελεί την πιο "αληθινή" στιγμή αυτού του τόσο άνισου βιβλίου που ξεκινάει δυναμικά, φανερώνει τις ελλείψεις της συγγραφέως στην πορεία κ κλείνει με υπέροχο τρόπο με τις δύο τελευταίες ιστορίες που είναι κ οι καλύτερες που θα βρείτε εδώ. Η Λι γράφει πολύπλοκα διηγήματα (χωρίς να είναι πλεονέκτημα αυτό) με κοινή θεματική την απέχθεια της προς την κομμουνιστική Κίνα κ όχι μόνο. Απ'την άλλη, φαντάζομαι πως έχει σημασία ότι η συλλογή κυκλοφόρησε μια ντουζίνα χρόνια πριν, όταν η καταγραφή των δυσκολιών που αντιμετώπιζαν οι πολίτες της χώρας τα χρόνια του Μάο (κ μετέπειτα) ήταν από μόνη της σημαντική δουλειά. Στο σήμερα όμως, με τόσα βιβλία επί του θέματος δεν (μου) φτάνει.Η γραφή της Λι, σε αντίθεση με άλλους μετανάστες συγγραφείς που γράφουν κατευθείαν στα αγγλικά, έχει μια ωραία απλότητα που κάνει τα διηγήματα να λειτουργούν με άμεσο τρόπο όπως συμβαίνει στην Αθανασία που είναι μια πρωτότυπη ιστορία που πατάει στις παραδόσεις της χώρας (αυτό εδώ μεταφράζεται στην πίστη των παλιών πως αν μια έγκυος γυναίκα κοιτάζει κατά τη διάρκεια της εγκυμοσύνης της συνέχεια μια φωτογραφία τότε το παιδί της θα αποκτήσει το πρόσωπο του εικονιζόμενου) κ μεταφέρει με πολύ ωραίο τρόπο μια ζωή που ελέγχεται σε μεγάλο βαθμό απ'το καθεστώς. Εξίσου δυνατή εμπειρία είναι κ Η Πριγκίπισσα της Νεμπράσκα που έχει στο κέντρο της ένα ιδιαίτερο τρίγωνο κ κλείνει εξαιρετικά με μια πανίσχυρη τελευταία παράγραφο. Στη συνέχεια όμως, έχασα τελείως το ενδιαφέρον μου. Μια μέρα μετά κ έπρεπε να ξεφυλλίσω το βιβλίο για να θυμηθώ τα τεκταινόμενα στις ιστορίες που ακολουθούν (Γιος, Διευθέτηση, Έρωτας Στην Αγορά κ το κάπως καλύτερο Ο Θάνατος Δεν Είναι Ενα Κακο Αστείο... που ήταν παρόμοιο αισθητικά με την Αθανασία).Ευτυχώς όμως, η Λι είχε φυλάξει το καλύτερο για το τέλος. Οι Γιαρμάδες είναι η καλύτερη ιστορία του βιβλίου κ αφηγείται την αιματηρή εκδίκηση που παίρνει ο Λαο Τα για τη δολοφονία του γιου του κ είναι η μοναδική στιγμή που η Λι καταφέρνει επιτέλους να θέσει κάποια ερωτήματα. Τι θα έκαναν οι υπόλοιποι άντρες που αφηγούνται την ιστορία του Λαο Τα αν ήταν στη θέση του; Τι θα έκανες εσυ; Που σταματάει η άνευ όρων υποταγή; Η άλλη πραγματικά δυνατή στιγμή έρχεται με το ομώνυμο διήγημα που μέσα απ'την αλήθεια που αναγκάστηκε να κρύψει ο πατέρας της ηρωίδας φαίνεται να κρύβεται η ίδια η Λι στο σήμερα. Συνολικά πάντως η Γίγεν Λι φαίνεται πως αξίζει τον κόπο, ακόμα κ αν το ντεμπούτο της είναι γεμάτο ελλείψεις. Με δύο πραγματικά εξαιρετικές ιστορίες κ άλλες τέσσερις καλές εώς πολύ καλές το πρόσημο είναι σίγουρα θετικό, αν κ τα βραβεία που πήρε είναι κάπως ανεξήγητα. Ας είναι όμως, δεν φταίει η ίδια γι'αυτό. Το σίγουρο είναι πως θα ξαναδιαβάσω κάτι δικό της, οι Περιπλάνωμενοι είναι ήδη στη βιβλιοθηκη μου, θα ακολουθήσει κ το Αντίδοτο στη Μοναξιά.

  • Стефан Русинов
    2018-10-05 20:06

    Подхванах я от чисто професионално любопитство, без да очаквам много, но я изчетох с кеф. Писането на Июн Ли е на границата с документалното, почти журналистическо. Тя изобщо не ни/си губи времето със себе си, погледът й е насочен изцяло към проблемното в света, предполагам оттук и хладното, неукрасено разказване, което е увлекателно и по същество — не се разчита на никакви езикови трикове (кажете “езикови трикове” три пъти), макар че има някои доста приятни заигравки с наративния ритъм, рязки и въздействащи прескачания на времеви пасажи например, които спестяват езикова баластра, без да ме ощетяват от необходимата информация, а напротив — държат ме нащрек и ми гъделичкат мозъка. Концентрацията е върху персонаж и случка. Героите й до един са хора, затулени под социалната и политическа норма, невидими хора, за които изобщо не се говори, “излишни” хора, каквото е и заглавието на първия разказ от сборника. Пенсионирана лелка, останала без пенсия; засрамени, но любящи родители на психичноболно дете; двойник на Мао Дзъдун; хомосексуалисти; изоставена годеница; баща на имигрантка. Изобразяването, разкриването, оличностяването на такива скрити персонажи е нещо, което все повече ценя в изкуството. Характеристиките на всички тези хора са поставени по изключително фин и ненатрапчив начин на фона на социални и политически процеси. Да, те са такива по рождение, по съдба, но житието и светоусещанията им са неусетно зависими от политическото статукво, тоест сложните начини, по които се възприема нещото “човек” в конкретната обстановка, в случая — съвременен Китай. Без да се отдалечава от героите си и да заявява политически позиции, с историите си Июн Ли дава частична представа за тези определения на човешкото, както и за болките, които те предизвикват. Персонажите обаче са толкова незначителни и безсилни, че за тях тези процеси наистина не са нищо повече от неконтролируем природен фон.Стратегията на завършването на разказите й е характерно объркваща. Заплетените понякога истории се разплитат и картината става ясна, но остава тежест от важни и неочевидни въпроси. Писателската стратегия на Июн Ли не е да отговаря, а да задава належащи въпроси, които друг не се сеща да зададе, колкото се може повече и колкото се може по-объркващи.Разказите в сборника са писани на английски и са публикувани в САЩ, а на китайски са излезли единствено в Тайван и Хонг Конг. В Китай не биха минали цензурата, не толкова заради критичното третиране на реалността, което в момента е като цяло позволено, а заради спорадичното гротескно споменаване на политически и идентичностни табута.Преводът на Анелия Данилова, която е превела и другата книга на Июн Ли — “Кланата река”, ми хареса много. Върви плавно, живо и ненатрапчиво, с разчупен език и с някои доста хубави попадения. Насладих се на историите и съм й благодарен. При наличието на цели трима редактори, както пише в карето отзад, обаче е жалко, че все пак са допуснати съвсем немалко дразнещи грешки, които в крайна сметка ми оставиха лош вкус. На първо място, китайските имена не са минали през консултант. Това е книга с разкази за Китай, така че китаистите би трябвало да са най-потенциалните й читатели. Да не се съобрази преводът с тях е излагация. Например: китайска фамилия Фон няма, да не говорим за Сън (китайската фамилия Sun се чете Сун). “Музика Тао” е по-скоро “таоистка музика”. А да бъдат оставени цели фрази на латиница (xiu bai shi ke tong zhou), та да се чуди българският читател какво да ги прави, вместо да се попита някой за произношението им (сиу бай шъ къ тун джоу), намирам за немарливо.Налице са и съвсем нормални преводачески пропуски, които редакторите не са изчистили, като например неуместно буквално превеждане. Това на гарата не е "платформа", а "перон". На много места имаше пълна темпорална каша заради необмислено несъответствие между времевите системи в английския и българския, например “Не видях и едно щастливо лице, откакто пристигнах”, което здраво ме препъна, вместо “Не съм видяла и едно щастливо лице, откакто пристигнах”. Пряката реч куцаше често и имаше изобилие от неестествени фрази, например “Какво има тук за мен”, вместо “Какво печеля аз”; “Не мога да направя това за теб”, вместо просто “Не мога да направя такова нещо”; “Скоро ще има за много неща да се притесняват”, вместо например “Много ядове ще берат в скоро време”; “След няколко години ще трябва да помислят да си търсят жени”, “Не казвам подобно нещо” — никой не говори така на български.Имаше ги и характерните коректорски недоглеждания, твърде много за разкази от 180 страници и трима редактори: на няколко места се появяваха неща от рода на “тя го изгледа със иронична усмивка”; актрисата Чън Чун понякога се прекръстваше на Чен Чун; на едно място беше “докрай”, на друго — “до край”; някой "наддава вик"; дъщерята се връща “по среднощ” и т.н.Корицата е визуално симпатична, особено гръбначето й много ме кефи, но решението на Дамян Дамянов да сложи изображение на Мао е банално (вкъщи вече е пълно с книги с Мао на корицата, за бога), а решението (чието и да е) да се използва църковнославянски шрифт за заглавията на разказите е неразбираемо.Все пак ценен и смел издателски проект на “Сиела”. Препоръчвам. :)

  • Rashaan
    2018-09-16 16:13

    Yiyun Li came to read at Saint Mary's College of California in the Bay Area a year or so ago, and I'll never forget how she explained her method of creating drama. In a crude paraphrasing, from what I can fuzzily recall, she said each of her characters are strategically angled in opposition to one another. And these angles are where she starts from, so the story's conflict is immediate and urgent. In her short story collection A Thousand Good Years of Prayers each character vies to break free from Communist China. This clash of East meets West fuels misunderstandings and inflames rifts between daughters and fathers, mothers and sons, lovers and friends. And, despite the flood of anguish, anger, and heartbreak that many of these characters brim with, in their confrontation against self, community, and culture, Li's prose is deceptively simple and reserved, reflective of her own restrained background.

  • Matina
    2018-10-07 17:52

    Πω. Πω. Μάγκα. Μου.Πέρα απ τα διηγήματα, που σπάνια σε συλλογές διηγημάτων δεν "πετάς" κανένα, το τελευταίο προσωπικό κείμενό της "Τί σχέση έχει αυτό με μένα;", είναι απλά συγκλονιστικό. Και μόνο γι αυτό το κείμενο, είναι ένα βιβλίο που πρέπει να διαβαστεί.

  • Monique
    2018-09-17 15:00

    Original post here.A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li is one of the books that I was dared to read this year, courtesy of the book club's I Dare You To Read year-ender/welcome activity last January. A short backgrounder: participants to the activity were asked to name one Best Read and one Worst Read for 2013 (if they could bring their print copies or share digital copies of the books, that would be even better), and then everyone gets to pick one title each from the collated Best Reads and Worst Reads lists, which he/she will be "dared" to read within the year. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is the book I picked from the Best Reads list, which my good friend Benny cited as one of the best books he’s read for 2013. Knowing his penchant for remarkable literary works, I'm glad I picked it, even if I had no idea what the book was all about. It's the first time I've heard of both author and book, so I didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t a book I would pick up on my own volition or give a second glance sans recommendations, taking a chance that I won’t be wasting my time or money. Thanks to the book club's activity (and Benny, of course!), I was given a chance to acquaint myself with this exceptionally talented author whose roots are from China. And what better way to get to know Yiyun Li than through this collection of short fiction, each one full of heart and nostalgia and raw emotions, they're just too good?*There are 10 stories in this collection, all of them about Chinese people – both in their native China and in the United States, as immigrants. All of the stories are replete with Chinese culture, tradition, myths, and history, and all are so poignantly told that it felt like silently communing with the characters. They reminded me of the stories of Jhumpa Lahiri, who wrote about immigrant Indians in the United States and whose award-winning short fiction are guaranteed to tear at your heartstrings. But Yiyun Li is notable and brilliant all on her own. While Lahiri’s prose is quietly elegant, Li’s writing has a certain charm in its simplicity and straightforwardness. I would hazard a guess that English is only her second language, being originally from China, and if this were true, then her prose must be given credit for its clarity and precision. I am looking forward to reading more of her works. My three favorite stories from this collection are Immortality, After A Life, and of course, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. Immortality told about the Chinese eunuchs of old, the regime of the Chairman Mao or the "dictator" and Communist China, and a simple, bereft young man who unwittingly achieved immortality because of the fusion of these two important aspects of Chinese history. After A Life is about a couple who got married against all odds – they were first cousins, after all, and they went against the advice of their elders – and had two children, one of them afflicted with cerebral palsy from birth and had no chance of living a normal life. Finally, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is about Mr. Shi, a rocket scientist, and the distinct relationships he shared with two women in his life: his shaky relationship with his divorcee daughter, and the companionship he found with a non-English speaking woman retiree with whom he shared stories of his life. In all these stories, I was extremely moved by the personal battles and struggles that the characters endured, and how they coped and attempted to survive in the ways they knew how.*"There's a reason for every relationship, that's what the saying says. Husband and wife, parents and children, friends and enemies, strangers you bump into in the street. It takes three thousand years of prayers to place your head side by side with your loved one's on the pillow."

  • David
    2018-10-13 21:10

    This is a rich and enchanting collection of stories. Vivid and transporting. I enjoyed them quite a bit.

  • Cecily
    2018-09-16 22:59

    Ten short stories, each encapsulating a different aspect (and often, era) of Chinese life, behaviour and culture. Brilliantly evocative and plausible.

  • Jenny
    2018-09-18 16:00

    My first unbeknownst exposure to Yiyun Li was in the Wayne Wang film, The Princess of Nebraska, which was based on Li’s story of the same name. My first thought was if it was your decision to cast Boshen as a white guy in the film then shame on you Wayne Wang! Boshen is supposed to be Chinese! I think that makes it a lot more interesting and slightly less creepy than a middle aged white man who is in love with an 18 year old Chinese man. I like the tension between Sasha and Boshen because they’re both Chinese nationals who have escaped China for the United States and cannot reach Yang who is trapped in China. They both feel like they’ve betrayed him by leaving and yet cannot do anything to help him. In “The Princess of Nebraska” Li writes, “A man like Boshen should have an ordinary life, boring and comfortable, yet his craze for Yang made him a more interesting man” (87) and I felt the same way about this short story collection. I thought it was much more interesting that she had a couple of gay main characters. The story “Son” particularly hit home since it’s about an obedient “good” son who finally tells his mother he is gay. It’s touching and sad.Chinese writers writing in English (or even those who have their work translated into English) always seem to write in super sparse straightforward language so I guess it’s similar to Mandarin. Sometimes it works but generally I find it difficult to find the beauty in that type of language. I had a feeling that in all this straightforward language I was missing something like maybe she wasn’t telling me something on purpose because I was supposed to read into it more. Ah Chinese people and their straightforward but not-so-straightforward way of communication! I was also a little tired of all the flower metaphors and reading about “planting seeds in his wife’s belly” in story after story. Another strike. Though I wasn’t that keen on the writing style, Li is able to craft some memorable characters that have quotable gems: “Being a mother must be the saddest yet most hopeful thing in the world, falling into a love that, once started, would never end” (91). In “Love In the Marketplace” the main character’s mother is a poor tea egg seller at the train station and the daughter tells the mother it’s a waste of money to use expensive spices since they’ll never come back to you. The mother says, “[I’m giving] them their one chance to eat the best eggs in the world” and I loved her for that pride and stubbornness. In “Immortality” the story of the village that raised imperial eunuchs is really imaginative and flirts with magical realism. There is a cool description of the village participating in a sparrow-killing day after 3 years of famine. They all wave fans and bang on things to scare the sparrows off the trees. The sparrows fly, until exhausted, they fall from the sky. It’s about how a baby is born in the village with Mao’s face and he is hired by the government to star in propaganda movies and as a stand-in for Mao after his death. In “A Thousand Years of Good Prayer” I really liked the sarcasm of the daughter, the unearthing of buried family feelings, the display of the rift between the generations, and this quote: Life provides more happiness than we ever know. We have to train ourselves to look for it (188).Many of Li’s characters have been treated unfairly by Communist China and we see the hypocrisy, corruption, and the lengths people go through to survive because a people’s revolution wasn’t fully realized. Though that wasn’t the point of the book she does show how the Communist Party has impacted the lives of people who don’t toe the party line. Most aren’t rebels or revolutionaries—they’ve either been deemed obsolete or they’ve dared to question someone’s authority. I couldn’t get into some of the characters or the language but the good parts are Li’s quiet exploration of the lives of modern-day Chinese people who are trying to mend their broken hearts.I also learned that I’m tired of flower metaphors but gays make everything better.

  • Tanuj Solanki
    2018-09-23 15:11

    Notes1. There were two stories done in first-person plural. One of them, 'Immortality' - about how a boy grows up to be a Mao lookalike - is perhaps the best story in the collection.2. In two of the stories, Li falls into a common trap - having to explain a lot of back-story towards the end of the story. Examples are 'The Arrangement' and the titular story.3. There are at least three classic short stories here - 'After a Life', 'Immortality', and 'Death Is Not a Bad Joke If Told the Right Way'

  • Samir Rawas Sarayji
    2018-09-18 16:04

    Oh I could barely make it half-way through this collection. The stories read like over-crafted anti-Chinese but pro-America narratives. The characters felt forced and the dismissive attitude of Chinese culture was a turn off. When I read an international writer, I want to be shown about the culture they are depicting, but I don't want to be constantly told or reminded what I should feel about it. Frankly, I don't understand all the praise this book has received, until I saw a the end a not-so-brief explanation of her current (2006) citizenship process in the USA, where if rejected for the second time, she and her family would have to be deported back to China. Suddenly, I felt I was reading a marketing device to enhance my sympathy rather than appreciate a writer... But what ticked me off beyond anything was having her compared to a modern day Chekhov... seriously?!

  • Bookmarks Magazine
    2018-09-28 21:11

    With a Plimpton Prize and publications in the New Yorker and Paris Review, Li has found her natural medium: writing stories in her nonnative English. Her language is simple and graceful, her observations of modern life penetrating and moving. In her book debut, she has rendered, with freshness, the rich tapestry of global Chinese life in all its complexity, angst, and comfort.This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  • Sarah
    2018-09-18 18:01

    Some of these stories feel rather bloodless, a little constructed, but also intriguing in the detail of Chinese lives. The scope does seem quite narrow - I can't believe I'm saying that, as we have China past, present and emigrant going on here, but there is little sense of the vastness of human experience out there; instead there is overlap in themes and troubles. All quite moving.

  • Marian
    2018-09-15 21:08

    Stunning, bleak, honest, and often chilling. At least one story is somewhat marred by awkwardness but the overall quality and nerve are at such a high level that it hardly matters.

  • Fikri
    2018-09-24 23:17

    Easily one of the best short story collections I’ve read; there wasn’t a single piece I didn’t enjoy. Li’s prose is clear, observant, and unsentimental (in the best possible sense of the word). I almost docked a star off because I don’t think it’s on the level of say, The Vagrants, but that’s an unfair comparison to make especially when I think Li has really mastered the form of the short story. Her stories spin off small details — a deed, a fixation, often a secret — and span relatively brief time periods while deftly carrying the weight of much more — not only the complexities of her (consistently stunningly well-developed) characters but sometimes also centuries of Chinese history and politics.

  • Ali
    2018-10-12 17:59

    Loved this more than anything I'd read for a while.

  • James
    2018-09-20 22:52

    Perhaps if anybody might have a stake in the trans-cultural, Asian-Ameican literary tradition, alongside say Jhumpa Lahiri and Chang-Rae Lee, then Yiyun Li [herself following a well-worn heritage of Amy Tan, Gish Jen etc.] might be that author. Published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and Glimmer Train, Li seems to be what America wants - but perhaps not what America needs? I had high hopes for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, it having won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story award and racking up plenty of praise as Li's debut collection. Overall, however, the collection was very mild, mostly pedestrian in style and narrative, not offering anything novel in terms of the cultural experience. The collection has some brilliance of course, and when they work they work very well: 'A Thousand Years of Good Prayers' is a well-wrought story dealing with cultural language barriers and the themes of communication and silence; 'Immortality,' which won the Plimpton Prize, is perhaps one of the more experimental pieces in the collection and much different from its surrounding prose in that it deals with ideas of myth and fable, in a very political satire that is much reminiscent of Yan Lianke, with some very memorable scenes; 'Persimmons' is a curious little story which is almost told entirely in dialogue and gossip about a murderer; 'Son' charts the troubles and difficulties of a gay immigrant returning to China and seeing the ghost of Communism emerge in the duping of his mother's stern Christianity. Nevertheless, even these stories fall sometimes into the straight-forward prose which characterises much of Li's collection, bordering on sentimentality or romanticism, or at other times - worse - seem to project clichéd stereotypes, such as the prevailing, not so subtle, idea of Communism as being unilaterally bad, and America as a cultural utopia. The stories and characters are by and large in depressing situations, usually linked because they are Chinese, rather than because they are victims of the system, but that is not where the problem lies; the problem lies in the lack of momentum within much of the stories, and instead Li's writing style relies on a myriad of page-breaks in order to tie together loose ends. There is a strangeness in A Thousand Years of Good Prayers which glimmers sometimes in the inexplicability of events and situations, as well as the abruptness of endings, but often such moments become too much of a moral machine. The stand-out story is 'The Princess of Nebraska,' a unique story which shines so bright it makes much of the other stories coal-like in comparison; drawn around the curious love-triangle - if you could even call it that - between two immigrants and a Classical Opera nan dan, male-as-female, actor who becomes a rentboy, across countries. Interesting and written with genuine feeling and artistic sensibility, the story reinforces Li's territory: as a master of understanding culture clashes, especially when she writes about immigrants - herself, obviously, being one. It is in those stories, the better stories of the collection, which deals with the meeting-point between East and West, old and new, far and near, where the writing does justice to its themes, and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers feels like it has things to offer.

  • Daniel Tam-Claiborne
    2018-09-19 21:11

    Short stories were a little hit and miss. I loved the first one and wasn't especially moved by the next three, and eventually stopped reading. Stories related to the Chinese experience, both nationally and the diasporic community abroad (especially in the US), which was interesting.

  • Ernest Junius
    2018-09-28 18:14

    All in the same theme, Yiyun Li's stories are all about (pretty much) Chinese people who try to run away (to the States). Very interesting descriptions and prose style; Li's words are heavily coloured by the vibrant colours of China revolution. She summons Mao a lot in her book, also famous Chinese proverbs, and the less famous one and the more obscure too. These are quite refreshing to me, as this book is the first book from a Chinese author I've ever read.I noted too, a few other interesting points in Li's style in telling stories: She doesn't really end her stories. She'd just spread the circumstances on the floor, like a trader in the market showing off his goods. However, even though the stories feel like they can be continued further, the way they end have a certain closure to it. Therefore I would say her stories end by leaving a fragments of them inside me. Then the second one, which is probably her strong point: she seems to be able to explain every little thing in mundane daily life that we usually miss or don't care enough to explore but actually stuck in our subconsciousness like a stick of fishbone—we do want to find out, but we are just not curious enough or observant enough.I noticed that she might be the Chinese Jhumpa Lahiri or Jhumpa Lahiri might be the Indian Yiyun Li, it just comes to me that they have a lot of similarities in writing their stories: family, little-big conflict, affairs, and all those homy-daily stuff.But in the end I think I quite enjoy this book. I don't know if that's because she's telling a lot about escaping to a better country, talking mostly about hope and new life, reset, new beginning—which of course, leave a feel-good in your soul. I think she's fine. I think I might read her other work.

  • Lillian
    2018-10-10 23:02

    A book of short stories many of them brutal and written in sparse pointed language, illustrating the barrenness and futility of the characters whose lives the stories depict. There are 9 stories of Chinese people, some immigrants to the United States, some still living in China. The last story, titled, A thousand Years of Good Prayers is the most intriguing and poignant story. It is the one from which the book takes it's title. The father in the story, is concerned with his daughter's unwillingness to speak to him, or share her problems ( her recent divorce, and the reason he is visiting her, to help her out of her sorrow) which she does not discuss and his reflections of her childhood which to him, were so sweet.Throughout the story, the author explores the emptiness and misunderstandings that are transmitted thru their inability to communicate, and the idea that much of what is hidden though lack of language has still been transmitted. And yet, the relationship between father and daughter is sad and the father 's past remoteness almost seems beyond his control. The daughter is bitter and attacks him with her confrontations of who she really is, and the accusations she throws at him. This is the only story in which I felt any compassion for the characters. I especially was touched by the father's inability to communicate , his wishes to be with his daughter, his search for connectedness which seemingly has eluded him his whole life, and the brutality of the system in which he lived in China. A collection of stories, of empty,barren lives, a submissive people and a totalitarian system that sucks out sentiment and joy. Read it at your own risk.

  • Tzurky
    2018-10-14 18:58

    An excellent book, very emotional. The stories were gut-wrenching (which I enjoy), perhaps even more so because they seemed true to life. I would recommend it to anyone who can stomach the unpleasantness of reading about the realities of life we try to escape by immersing ourselves into books.While the stories were uniquely Chinese, in that they reflect the political, economic and social context of the country, they deal with universal human experiences, such as love, family, finding purpose in live etc.I was surprised, however, at all the goodreads reviews bringing up how the stories are so critical of China (for better or worse). I believe them to be more far-reaching in scope. Being born in another former communist country, whose society is similarly traditional, I see most of the issues brought up in the stories reflected in the social relationships of my home country and I believe that they may apply to all traditional societies who place value on an individual only in relation to his or her contribution to that society. For instance, I immagine that filial devotion is a similarly crushing responsibility (my personal opinion on the topic) in India or Japan, two countries that were never communist.

  • Debbie
    2018-10-16 22:11

    This was my bookclub read for April and I have to confess that I didn't finish it. I'm not a fan of short stories and so put off reading it until I just didn't have enough time to finish it in the time available. However, as far as short stories go, these ones were better than a lot I've read. Which isn't saying much, but it's something!The writing was good, but the stories themselves were very negative and depressing. They dealt with the lives of Chinese people in modern day China and all the characters seemed to have very sad lives. Common themes were lack of basic human rights in China, the ways in which the old traditional ways of life hold people back and the generation gap that had opened between young and old, the difficulties for Chinese immigrants in adjusting to life in the West and the dislocation they feel with their old ways of life when they return to China.The stories I read were all very depressing. They probably all had deep underlying meanings that I couldn't be bothered looking for, but for me, this book just reinforced the negative opinion I already have of China.

  • Zack Quaintance
    2018-09-23 15:47

    The brilliance of this collection was evident from the first story, 'Extra', which has entirely disavowed me of any small notions I once had that familiar worlds and details might make fiction easier to relate to. 'Extra' absolutely captured how it feels to be a wanting human being, rendering love and solitude and struggle in such a gorgeous, heart-rending tale. I was floored by the first story, which, as it would turn out, set the tone for the work that followed. I saw so much of myself and my loved ones in all of Yiyun Li's characters. There are half a dozen stories in this collection I've made a note to read again soon.

  • Nezzo
    2018-09-28 17:55

    Дълго време се чудих колко звезди заслужава тази книга. Не са пет, сякаш не са и четири. Но прозата на Июн Ли си я бива, колкото и да е кратка, неподредена и обичайна за Азия. И дори за човек като мен, който не си пада по книги пълни с орязана проза в тази има нещо, което е интересно и подхранващо вкуса към източните култури. Които така или иначе не са лесни за разбиране в простичкият си живот обременен от толкова много политика, правила и разочаровани малки хора.

  • Nicki
    2018-09-15 17:10

    I found these stories quite peculiar really. Partly i think because they are from a completely different time and culture to mine. I can't decide if I liked the writing style either as it's all tied up with the culture. They are not uplifting stories at all, just strange, but maybe that is because they are from a very hard time ?

  • Abby
    2018-10-10 14:52

    The stories that were published in acclaimed magazines read like awkward, stilted clunkers. Ironically, it is the stories that have not been previously published that shine like small, unpolished gems. The title story is a subtle yet powerful tour de force that hints at Li's promise as a new voice in American literature.

  • Kristin
    2018-09-26 19:50

    Ugh. Worth it just for the essay in the back. My heart is broken and so full at the same time. Yiyun Li is a master master master. she does a lot of info dump but her storytelling is never truly bogged down because of it.

  • belisa
    2018-09-29 16:15

    kesinlikle nefis, özellikle ilk öykü "Fazlalık" ve beşinci öykü "Pazar Yerinde Aşk" unutulmayacak cinsten... sıradan Çin'de yaşam üzerine çeşitlemeler, sıradan olmayan karakterler... keşke daha fazla kitabı çevrilse...

  • ZaRi
    2018-10-15 23:03

    آقایان همیشه علاقمند به تغییر هستند و خانم ها تمایل به حفظ و نگهداری دارند. یک زن مسائل ناشی از یک زندگی رامی پذیرد و آن را بهتر می سازد اما مرد برای رسیدن به بهتر معامله می کند و البته به چیز چندان کاملی هم نمی رسد.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-09-25 14:51

    "Pragmatic" was the word we argued over in workshop. "I think he means unromantic," went the clarification. Bare bones, unsentimental, and moving, in both sense of the word, in strange directions. I love these.