Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories” as Want to Read:
Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,408 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
In these spellbinding stories, Yiyun Li, a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award winner, a MacArthur Fellow, and one ofThe New Yorker’s top 20 fiction writers under 40, gives us exquisite stories in which politics and folklore magnificently illuminate the human condition. A professor introduces her middle-aged son to a favorite student, unaware of the student’s true affections. A ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Random House (first published 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 29, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Cynthia
4 and 1/2 stars

Nuggets and gems (in keeping with the title of this collection) are scattered throughout these stories -- in some it is the culminating line; in others a sentence that at first glance seems like a throwaway. Though the stories are set in China, these are more stories of character, not place, though the changes from an 'old' to a 'new' China and the resulting transitions do inform them.

The opening novella, "Kindness" -- the only story told in the first person -- sets the tone for t
Nov 05, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Unique Voice

The first story, ‘Kindness’, is about a young girl serving her required army stint the year before starting college. She’s led an isolated childhood as an only child of a depressed, unengaged mother and a loving but much older and more tired father who works as a janitor. The child has an odd talent for gaining the interest of influential people such as an aging, lonely literary woman who teaches her to read and appreciate English literature including Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy
Edward Rathke
Aug 09, 2011 Edward Rathke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the loneliest collections of stories I've ever read. It's also remarkably beautiful, if only because it manages to never fall into despair. The will to go on, to keep living, even when all love is gone, even after realising that love was only a word one never could believe in or that one could no longer believe in. But there is so much more here than that.

--I never showed up in her dreams, I am certain, as people we keep in our memories rarely have a place for us in theirs. You ma
Nov 25, 2012 Judy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Sue
This is one of those books that I couldn't point a finger at and say "This was wrong, that was wrong, I didn't like this..." because it was well-written, the plots and topic was good, but I simply struggled through the stories because they were all so darn depressing....But I guess when loneliness is the theme of the book that should be expected! However, can't a lonely person have something good happen once in a while?
Jun 28, 2016 Leseparatist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2016
Okładka porównuje prozę Yiyun Li do Nabokowa i Czechowa, ale spokojnie widać tu też podobieństwa do opowiadań Alice Munro. Światy zamieszkiwane przez postaci są pełne niedopowiedzień, niespełnionych namiętności (albo i żyć) i kompromisów. Części tekstów brakowało - w moim odczuciu - tego ostatecznego sznytu, zgrabnej pointy (lub braku pointy) jak to u Munro, które tak zupełnie do mnie trafia, ale nawet bez tej doskonałości, sporo tekstów czytało się znakomicie. Niemniej jednak, niezmiernie cieka ...more
Oct 09, 2011 Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
I think this is the book I have enjoyed reading the most this year, and it is also one of the best books I have read this year, in terms of opening a new world open to me. I have read several other Chinese authors, but this is probably my favorite. I felt that the characters were both universal and specific, and that the book was a strong insight into "real" (although it is fiction), human lives in China... and would be interested to know of course what people who know more about real life in Ch ...more
Feb 06, 2011 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the short stories in this book. I thought it was interesting how all of them involved an older character who was nostalgic or regretful about their past in some way. I like Yiyun Li's writing style. I like the simplicity of her sentences (like when one character compares freedom to a restaurant you get tired of eating at), or how violence always pops up in her plots in ways that really shock you. I like how most of her characters are lonely. Her stories are sad, but somehow not depress ...more
Nov 30, 2012 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best collections of stories I have ever read. This one I'd buy and keep to re-read!
Yiyun Li's tales have a different perspective; a quiet, wise outlook on the passage of time and humans events. I really enjoyed this one.
Sarah Stevens
I picked up this book on a whim after seeing it displayed prominently at my local public library. It is the One Book, One Chicago 2012 Spring pick, and as a collection of short stories, I thought it would fit into my reading time, which is stolen in snatches and bits from my daily responsibilities.

Each story is a vignette that reveals quietly tragic figures going about their daily lives, but each contains a turning point or special event in their lives that is often the culmination of many years
Jun 14, 2014 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an 80 page novella and 8 short stories, all concerning lonely people, and mostly set in present day China.

The final line of the book, and of the eponymous story, sums them all up, "They were lonely and sad people... and they would not make one another less sad, but they could, with great care, make a world that would accommodate their loneliness", and that glimmer of hope is what ensure this is not a depressing collection.

The novella is about a 40 year old single woman in Beijing
Annika Park
Jun 10, 2013 Annika Park rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
YiYun Li was my gateway to Contemporary Asian Literature - well not Asian literature because they were originally written and published in English. But I think there is something special about asian writers - they have an edge to their writing that you cannot find anywhere else. Their succinct yet all-encompassing prose and distinctly cultural undertones can easily come across as rudimentary and second-rate, but Li's literary craftsmenship and thematic ideas really make her stand out among the c ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder at the elegance of Li's writing. Whole stories are beautifully visualized on the page and not one metaphor or similie. It's all just accurately described and the accumulation of accurately described moments adds up to beauty.

I guess I'll quit writing now.
Andrea Mullarkey
Aug 03, 2012 Andrea Mullarkey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
This is a powerful collection of stories by Yiyun Li. Most are set in 20th century China and certainly there is a strong sense of time and place. But the dominant feature of the stories are the characters. Li’s main characters are outsiders; people who in various ways have positioned themselves away from their family members, co-workers and the rest of society. They often have different expectations for their lives than the people around them and in many ways they are alone. Through these people ...more
Apr 22, 2014 George rated it liked it
Shelves: nook-st, yiyun-li

"As innocent as new blossoms, unaware of the time sweeping past like a river."—page 134

Subtlety and futility seem to suffuse the eight short stories of Yiyun Li's nuanced collection, GOLDEN BOY, EMERALD GIRL.

Recommendation: Not a comfortable read for the linear-minded (nothing ever seems to be resolved), but poetically lyrical if you can abide a touch of ambiguity.

"The one to show up at the right time beats the earlier risers."—page 135

"But animosity is easier to live with
Christopher Novas
Jan 14, 2012 Christopher Novas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crushingly beautiful and sad collection of short stories. The characters in these stories find love to be a word that is never to be believed, or that it is something they can no longer believe in. There is so much sadness seeped into this book, although the men and women you encounter in this collection never falter. The old do not understand the young, and vice versa. The youth do not care. Even though their worlds may be collapsing they have a calm aura about them. They are waiting for the ne ...more
Linda Robinson
Dec 30, 2010 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magician, weaver, elegant storyteller, I am awestruck again by Yiyun Li. Her words pull emotions and insights from the corners in our hearts into the light, but gently, like a thoughtful teacher guiding. Her extraordinary talent to connect all humanity in a short story with local characters is ennobling and humbling together. Li grants readers the gift of seeing life with other eyes. Sublime, grandiose, personal. Makes me believe that small stories, told well, can change the shape and color of t ...more
Ivana Ciglar

Written for and published on a Croatian web portal:

„Bili su usamljeni i tužni ljudi, sve troje, i neće si uzajamno umanjiti tugu, ali mogu, vrlo pažljivo, stvoriti svijet koji će prihvatiti njihovu samoću.“

Rečenica koja je uzeta iz pripovijetke „Zlatni dečko, smaragdna djevojka“ najpotpunije ocrtava narav i izričaj ovog djela. Ova fantastična zbirka priča sadrži devet pripovijetki u kojima se u potpunosti razotkriva ljudsko srce i svi njegovi nedostaci i potrebe. Spisateljica Y
Feb 17, 2013 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best story collections I've ever read. The quality of voice, the scope of lives that we meet, the overall tone... incredible. I noticed a few references to Dickens, and I think that's clearly an influence. Most resonant is how many of the stories portray the entire arc of a life or lives, and conclude with a balance of about 6 parts bitterness to 1 part sweet. Poignant! True? Not in line with American beliefs about "happily ever after," that's for sure!
Joanna Luloff
Jul 27, 2012 Joanna Luloff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully quiet and restrained collection of stories. Many of them deal with loneliness (often stubbornly self-imposed) as a way to maintain a sense of self. There is nothing showy about these stories, but at the end of almost every one, I wanted to flip back to the beginning and start again to see how they had managed to build up so much psychological punch and complexity. The final story (and title story) is stunning.
Jun 13, 2016 Marja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The short stories give fascinating glimpses to Chinese society. Most stories are sad or bittersweet but there are some that are funny in a very quite way. This is not a 'happy' book but the characters seem like they are content for what they have. One thing all the stories have in common, is that they don't reveal everything. They leave room for thought. Very nice collection of short stories.
Jul 09, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
Na prvi pogled po koricama, knjiga mi izgleda vedro, opušteno, jel djetelina sa četiri lista (nemam pojma) al me na nju podsjeća. Naslov simpatičan.

Knjiga se sastoji od 9 priča. Ovo je zbirka priča o usamljenosti čovjeka. Sviđa mi se stil pisanja i gotovo svaka priča me ostavila u razmišljanju. Najviše mi se sviđala priča pod naslovom: ''zatvor'' i ''vrtna cesta broj 3''.

- Priča pod naslovom: ''Vrtna cesta broj 3'' čak me na kraju uspjela i mrvicu nasamijati. Priča je o dvoje stanara jedne zgra
Oct 19, 2010 Jenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of short stories that all center on Chinese life, culture, and Li's unbelievable characters. She has really mastered the art of the short story because I feel as if I deeply know the characters within pages of each story beginning. I enjoyed her fluid writing style and I found this a refreshing glimpse into loneliness and hope.
Gopal MS
Aug 30, 2014 Gopal MS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful stories from the one of the best short story writers of our times with stories about lonely people and about loneliness. And no, I didn't find it depressing.

Like in India, China seems to be a place where there is a constant struggle between the individual and being part of the group, be it the family or social groups (as in India) or the communist groups and work groups in China and these stories of Individual who are alone in a crowd goes deep into the hearts of the people and their l
Jane Ciabattari
Sep 27, 2010 Jane Ciabattari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My interview with Yiyun Li, The Daily Beast:


and my review of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl:
Dec 14, 2015 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gold Boy, Emerald Girl is a collection of short stories set in twenty-first century China.

The opening story, Kindness, is really a novella in itself, and this is the most accomplished piece of the collection: lonely and quietly tragic, but also defiant. Muyan is a desperately solitary girl and although two women war to take her under their wings, she refuses to be shaped by someone else's mould. She is perhaps not happy, but she is her own person, and she is free. She makes a world 'that would a
Aug 27, 2014 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories in this collection were lovely--wonderfully written, with rich yet minimal detail. Most of them were infused with a sense of loneliness that left me feeling almost melancholy. While I enjoyed this collection, I think that overall I liked her first book, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, more. I think I would actually have liked these stories more if I'd encountered them not all next to each other, because then I would have been able to take more time to let each one sink in and reson ...more
Jun 24, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
* 22 Books for the Armchair Traveler

The tales in Yiyun Li's second collection often take on the otherworldliness of myth, in a country where "big tragedies and small losses [can] all be part of a timeless dream." But what makes Gold Boy, Emerald Girl fascinating is the conflict between traditional and modern-day China. In the wrenching "Prison," for example, a Chinese-born woman, still grieving her daughter's death, goes home to hire a surrogate to provide her a second chance at motherhood. When
Sarah Loh
I would give this a 3.5 rating actually, I like the writing. The short stories are indeed interesting but they are depressing.
Feb 07, 2015 Ming rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Short stories have been a mystery to me. Sometimes I like them and sometimes, I don't. Generally I prefer a longer (and thus, fuller) reading experience.

This collection of short stories was quirky. Each story unique and imaginative. The language was spare and the tone subtle and reserved (but too subtle and too reserved for my tastes). At times I didn't know when the story ended. That was it? While the approach was up-front or plainspoken, the resolution or climax was illusive or opaque. Or was
Jan Priddy
GOLD BOY, EMERALD GIRL: STORIES by Yiyun Li (Random House, 2010) came highly recommended and I didn't understand why until the title story at the back. These stories are steeped in another culture, which I usually enjoy. There are frequent themes involving adopted children, estranged children, and uncommunicative and distant marriages. None of the stories was poorly written, but none of them touched me in any substantive way until the last one. Then the entire volume felt like a warm-up for that ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
There are many useless nerds with a good 1 2 Sep 05, 2015 02:44AM  
  • Hunger
  • Love in a Fallen City
  • A Good Fall
  • Lucky Girls
  • The Laws of Evening: Stories
  • Yellow: Stories
  • Gryphon: New and Selected Stories
  • The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • An Empty Room
  • Sightseeing
  • The Beautiful Indifference: Stories
  • Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women by Japanese Women
  • The Middleman and Other Stories
  • The Coast of Chicago: Stories
  • The Lemon Table
  • Women and Other Animals: Stories
  • The First Person and Other Stories
Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing, China and moved to the United States in 1996. She received an MFA from Iowa Writers' Workshop and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review,and elsewhere. She has received a Whiting Writers' Award and was awarded a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, TX. Her debut ...more
More about Yiyun Li...

Share This Book

“It saddened her that Luo insisted on holding on to her as if they had started to share some vital organs during their twenty years of marriage. She wondered if this was a sign of old age, of losing hope and the courage for changes. She herself could easily picture vanishing from their shared life, but then perhaps it was a sign of aging on her part, a desire for loneliness that would eventually make death a relief.” 2 likes
“I never showed up in her dreams, I am certain, as people we keep in our memories rarely have a place for us in theirs.” 2 likes
More quotes…