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Yiyun Li's Kinder Than Solitude

posted Mar 24, 2014, 8:31 PM by Holloway McCandless

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I reviewed Yiyun Li's Kinder Than Solitude for Shelf Awareness Pro last month and I'm still thinking about it--this is a compliment.

I think the power of Kinder Than Solitude derives predominantly from Li's astute characterizations, but the novel offers many ancillary pleasures: detailed scenes of teenage life in Beijing in the Tiananmen Square era, the adult lives of those same characters in China and the U.S. in the very recent past, the indelibility and destructiveness of shared secrets on relationships, and a very subtle exploration of culpability and loyalty.

I was already a fan of Li's before this novel, as I loved many of the stories in Gold Boy, Emerald Girl. Then I read her beautiful and self-revealing essay "Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life" in A Public Space, and I was blown away.

Highly recommended, for almost any reader. Kinder Than Solitude is also good choice for book clubs: there is plenty to gnash over.