Coupon
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life
by Yiyun Li


Overview - In her first memoir, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li offers a journey of recovery through literature: a letter from a writer to like-minded readers.

"A meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life."--Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead

"What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance?"

Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a luminous account of a life lived with books.  Read more...


 
Hardcover
  • $27.00

Add to Cart + Add to Wishlist

In Stock.

FREE Shipping for Club Members
 
> Check In-Store Availability

In-Store pricing may vary

 
 
New & Used Marketplace 26 copies from $13.99
 
 
 

More About Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
 
 
 
Overview
In her first memoir, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li offers a journey of recovery through literature: a letter from a writer to like-minded readers.

"A meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life."--Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead

"What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance?"

Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a luminous account of a life lived with books. Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living.

Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, a mother, a daughter--and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Soren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together.

Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live?

Praise for Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life

"Li has stared in the face of much that is beautiful and ugly and treacherous and illuminating--and from her experience she has produced a nourishing exploration of the will to live willfully."--The Washington Post

"Li's transformation into a writer . . . is nothing short of astonishing.'"--The New York Times Book Review

"An arrestingly lucid, intellectually vital series of contemplations on art, identity, and depression."--The Boston Globe

"Li is an exemplary storyteller and this account of her journey back to equilibrium, assisted by her closest companion, literature, is as powerful as any of her award-winning fiction, with the dark fixture of her Beijing past at its centre."--Financial Times

"Every writer is a reader first, and Dear Friend is Li's haunted, luminous love letter to the words that shaped her. . . . Her own prose is both lovely and opaque, fitfully illuminating a radiant landscape of the personal and profound."--Entertainment Weekly

"Yiyun Li's prose is lean and intense, and her ideas about books and writing are wholly original."--San Francisco Chronicle

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780399589096
  • ISBN-10: 0399589090
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: February 2017
  • Page Count: 224
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.84 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Literary Collections > Essays
Books > Psychology > Psychopathology - Depression

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-10-24
  • Reviewer: Staff

The vexed intersection between writing and living (or not living) is explored in these ruminative essays. Novelist Li (Kinder Than Solitude) explores tenuous subjectsruptures in time, the difficulty of writing autobiographical fiction, the pleasures of melodramain meandering pieces that wander through personal reminiscences and literary meditations. Braided in are fragmented recollections from her youth in China, including a stint in the Peoples Liberation Army; her migration to America to become an immunologist, a career she abandoned to write fiction; stays in mental hospitals; travels as a literary celebrity to meet other literati; and intricate appreciations of writers, including Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Bowen, and William Trevor. The book can be lugubrious; Li repeatedly visits the theme of suicideincluding her own morbid impulsesand is given to gray, fretful melancholia (There is an emptiness in me.... What if I become less than nothing when I get rid of the emptiness?). Much of the text is given over to belletristic why-we-write head scratchers such as this tireless drive to write must have something to do with what cannot be told. But the wispy philosophizing is redeemed by Lis brilliance at rendering her lived experience in novelistic scenes of limpid prose and subtly moving emotion. (Feb.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Notes on depression and literature

By just about any measure, writer Yiyun Li has had a remarkable life. Born and raised in Beijing before China’s explosion of prosperity (her family had no phone until she was in college), Li had a talent in science that brought her to the U.S. for graduate studies in immunology, but she shifted her focus to writing and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. By age 37 she’d won multiple writing awards, including a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, and had a full life in California. Yet she recently spent two years in and out of hospitals for depression. She wrote Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, her first nonfiction work, during this difficult period.

This unconventional memoir tucks glimpses of Li’s youth in Beijing, her narcissistic mother, her quiet father and childhood friends into a variety of meditations on writing and writers. These eight essays consider essential questions: Why write? Why read? Why live? She considers the letters and journals of Elizabeth Bowen, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Philip Larkin, Ivan Turgenev and others, and she writes tenderly of her own friendship with the Irish writer William Trevor.

At times, this book feels like a quiet conversation with a wise friend who says confounding things. Still, Li’s writing is lovely, graceful yet plainspoken, and I underlined many passages, like this one: “Some days, going from one book to another, preoccupied with thoughts that were of no importance, I would feel a rare moment of serenity: all that could not be solved in my life was merely a trifle as long as I kept it at a distance. Between that suspended life and myself were these dead people and imagined characters. One could spend one’s days among them as a child arranges a circle of stuffed animals when the darkness of night closes in.” 

 

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews