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Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,657 Ratings  ·  261 Reviews
In these spellbinding stories, Yiyun Li, a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award winner, a MacArthur Fellow, and one of The 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. ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2010)
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Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Gold Boy, Emerald Girl - Nevisande : Yiyun Li - ISBN : 1400068134 - ISBN13 : 9781400068135 - Dar 221 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2010
Nov 20, 2011 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
Edward Rathke
Aug 07, 2011 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
Sep 19, 2011 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
Kamalia Kamalia
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiksyen-fiction
4.5 bintang.
ada sembilan buah cerita (novela/cerpen) dalam buku ini dengan pelbagai konflik manusia. Namun, aku membacanya dengan penuh ketenangan dek kerana langgam bahasanya yang juga tenang. Watak, perwatakan dan latar cerita diterangkan dengan terperinci namun masih tidak serabut.
Nov 30, 2011 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?
Oct 09, 2011 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
Jun 10, 2016 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
Pickle Farmer
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
Oct 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2012 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.
Joan Kerr
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"My father, on the way home, warned me gently that the chickens were too young to last more than a day or two. I built a nest for the chicks out of a shoebox and ripped newspaper, and fed them water-softened millet grains and a day later, when they looked ill, aspirin dissolved in water. Two days later they died, the one I named Dot and marked with ink on his forehead the first one to go, followed by Mushroom. I stole two eggs from the kitchen when my father went to help a neighbour fix a leakin ...more
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
Feb 26, 2013 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
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
Zack Quaintance
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Li's first set of stories, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, the tales in Gold Boy, Emerald Girl feel mythic and grandiose yet familiar scope. A standout, in my opinion, is House Fire, which examines domestic lives lived through multiple perspectives by moving seamlessly between six narrators, all of whom draw from six decades of life experience, packing with rich ambition and quick bouts of whimsy. The other bit I'd like to note, is the last line of the last story in this collection, which ...more
Andrea Mullarkey
Aug 03, 2012 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
Christopher Novas
Jan 14, 2012 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 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
Feb 17, 2013 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 20, 2012 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.
Oct 19, 2010 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.
Jane Ciabattari
Sep 27, 2010 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:
Feb 27, 2015 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.
K.p. Suba
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember when I have felt so drawn in to short stories which are not of the O'Henry style. Each one is poignant in its own way and put together give such a kaleidoscopic view of China that it is tempting to want to continue the stories in your mind.
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.
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This woman has a remarkable ability to write haunting stories that stay with you for a considerable time.
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Li writes with a quiet, profoundly moving grace. Each of these stories will stay with you.
Melankolisia novelleja nyky-Kiinasta, lähinnä naisista. Osa napakampia, osa hieman haipuvia. Hieno lukukokemus kuitenkin.
Loved it. Simple, rough and heartbreaking.
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There are many useless nerds with a good 1 2 Sep 05, 2015 02:44AM  
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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...
“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.” 3 likes
“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
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