I’ve been meaning to read Yiyun Li’s short story collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayer, ever since I saw the film version of the collection's title story and saw that she had been named on the Top 20 Writers Under 40 in the New Yorker. The film version directed by Wayne Wang was produced by my friend Yukie Kito. It was also filmed in my hometown: Spokane, Washington. But the reason I liked the movie was the subtle but powerful story of a daughter trying to come to terms with her father in adulthood with some excellent acting. Here's my review of the film.
I must admit that I was very impressed with the collection. The title story in question concerns a young woman who has relocated to America and her difficult relationship with her father. There are emotional barriers that prevent her from completely opening up to her father and she has become someone else in America. She says that a new language makes you a new person-it has liberated her and she is free to pursue that new person while her father must grapple with this revelation.
The are several short stories that are set in China and some that take place in America. But the variety of characters and voices are impressive as Li gives off the impression of deep understanding of how people from different genders, class origins, and cultures think and act in the world. There wasn’t a story in the collection that didn’t engage me on some level.