Yiyun Li

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Yiyun Li
Yiyun Li.png
Native name
Born (1972-11-04) November 4, 1972 (age 50)
Beijing, China
OccupationAuthor, professor
Alma materPeking University
University of Iowa
Notable awardsMacArthur Fellow
Guggenheim Fellowship

Yiyun Li (born November 4, 1972) is a Chinese-born writer and professor in the United States. Her short stories and novels have won several awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award and Guardian First Book Award for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,[1][2] and the 2020 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for Where Reasons End.[3] She is an editor of the Brooklyn-based literary magazine A Public Space.[4]


Yiyun was born and raised in Beijing, China.[5][6] Her mother was a teacher and her father worked as a nuclear physicist.[7] Following a compulsory year of service in the People's Liberation Army,[5] she went on to earn a B.S. at Peking University in 1996. In the same year she moved to the US and in 2000 earned an MS in immunology at The University of Iowa. In 2005 she earned an MFA degree in creative nonfiction and fiction from The Nonfiction Writing Program and the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker,[8] The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story. Two of the stories from A Thousand Years of Good Prayers were adapted into 2007 films directed by Wayne Wang: The Princess of Nebraska and the title story, which Yiyun adapted herself.

Li had a breakdown in 2012 and attempted suicide twice.[9] After recuperating and leaving the hospital, she lost interest in writing fiction and for a whole year she focused on reading several biographies, memoirs, diaries and journals. According to her, reading about other people's lives "was a comfort".[9] She has taught fiction at the University of California, Davis, and is a professor of creative writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.[10]

Award and honours[edit]



  • — (2009). The Vagrants. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6313-0. LCCN 2008023467. OCLC 229028064.
  • — (2014). Kinder Than Solitude. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6814-2. LCCN 2013017307. OCLC 842323189.
  • — (2019). Where Reasons End. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-984817-37-2. LCCN 2018013429. OCLC 1030447783.
  • — (2020). Must I Go. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-399-58912-6. LCCN 2019048747. OCLC 1125306132.
  • — (2022). The Book of Goose. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-60634-3. LCCN 2022022703. OCLC 1289234580.

Short fiction[edit]

Short stories
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
Extra 2003 "Extra". New Yorker. December 14, 2003.
The Proprietress 2005 "The Proprietress". Zoetrope: All-Story. 9 (4). Fall 2005.
House Fire 2007 "House Fire". Granta. 97: Best of Young American Novelists 2. Spring 2007.
Prison 2006 "Prison". Tin House (28). Summer 2006. Li, Yiyun (2008). "Prison". In Furman, Laura (ed.). The O. Henry Prize stories 2008. New York: Anchor Books.
A Man Like Him 2008 "A Man Like Him". New Yorker. May 12, 2008. Li, Yiyun (2009). "A man like him". In Sebold, Alice (ed.). The best American short stories 2009. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Alone 2009 "Alone". New Yorker. November 16, 2009.
The Science Of Flight 2010 "The Science Of Flight". New Yorker. August 30, 2010.
A Small Sacrifice 2010 "A Small Sacrifice". The Threepenny Review. 123. Fall 2010.
A Sheltered Woman 2014 "A Sheltered Woman". New Yorker. March 10, 2014. Li, Yiyun (2015). A Sheltered Woman. HarperCollins.
On The Street Where You Live 2017 "On The Street Where You Live". New Yorker. January 9, 2017.
A Small Flame 2017 "A Small Flame". The New Yorker. 93 (12): 54–61. May 8, 2017.
A Flawless Silence 2018 A Flawless Silence. New Yorker. April 23, 2018
When We Were Happy We Had Other Names 2018 When We Were Happy We Had Other Names. New Yorker. September 24, 2019
All Will Be Well 2019 All Will Be Well. New Yorker. March 11, 2019
The Ability to Cry 2020 The Ability to Cry. New Yorker. November 16, 2020
If You Are Lonely and You Know It 2021 If You Are Lonely and You Know It. Amazon Original Stories. February 25, 2021
Hello, Goodbye 2021 Hello, Goodbye. New Yorker. November 8, 2021
Wednesday's Child 2023 Wednesday's Child. New Yorker. January 23, 2023


  • Li, Yiyun (2017). Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. Random House.

Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ "Interview with Yiyun Li, 2006 PEN/Hemingway Award Winner | The Hemingway Society". www.hemingwaysociety.org. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  2. ^ Guardian Staff (2006-12-06). "Interview with Guardian First Book Award winner Yiyun Li". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  3. ^ a b "Yiyun Li receives PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for originality, merit and impact". Princeton University. March 3, 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  4. ^ A Public Space.
  5. ^ a b Altmann, Jennifer. "Creative Writing: Life, By the Book". Princeton Alumni Weekly (June 6, 2018 ed.). Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  6. ^ Thompson, Bob (28 December 2005). "Proving the extraordinary". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  7. ^ Laity, Paul (24 February 2017). "Yiyun Li: 'I used to say that I was not an autobiographical writer – that was a lie'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Yiyun Li". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  9. ^ a b Laity, Paul (2017-02-24). "Yiyun Li: 'I used to say that I was not an autobiographical writer – that was a lie'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  10. ^ "Yiyun Li". Lewis Center for the Arts. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  11. ^ a b Taylor, Charlie (15 June 2011). "Colum McCann wins Impac award". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Yiyun Li - Professor of English". University of California, Davis. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  13. ^ Walsh, Caroline. "Two Irish authors make awards shortlist". The Irish Times. 9 July 2011.
  14. ^ Flood, Alison. "Strong showing for Irish writers on Frank O'Connor shortlist". The Guardian. 9 July 2011.
  15. ^ "The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2015 - Winner". Booktrust. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  16. ^ Flood, Alison (2020-03-19). "Eight authors share $1m prize as writers face coronavirus uncertainty". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  17. ^ "Guggenheim Fellowship in 2020".
  18. ^ "Yiyun Li Wins the 2022 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story". penfaulkner.org. 2022-05-16.

External links[edit]