PKU Alumna on The New Yorker's “Young Writers to Watch“ List
Peking University, June 7, 2010: The New Yorker magazine published "20 Under 40" fiction writers worth watching in its Summer Fiction issue Monday, including American Chinese author Li Yiyun, alumna of Peking University.
Compiled by the magazine's fiction team, the list also includes Jonathan Safran Foer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Joshua Ferris and Wells Tower, all from or based in North America and with a diversity of origins.
Now living in Oakland, California, 37-year-old Li Yiyun was born in Beijing and graduated from Peking University in 1996, majoring in biology. Li began to write while studying at the University of Iowa and later received her Masters of Art in 2005.
Li's debut collection of short stories in English A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2005) won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award in 2005 and the Guardian First Book Award in 2006. In 2009, she published the novel Vagrants.
According to the New Yorker report released on Monday, Li was trained between the ages of twelve and sixteen as a mathematician and physicist, and her dream then was to become the Mme. Curie of China. She came to the States initially in order to pursue a PhD in immunology, thinking that her future was to be in medical science: "B-cell–T-cell communication, or some autoimmune disease."
Li encountered the life of writing occasionally, which she soon became infatuated with. After finishing an evening course, she applied to the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop where she received MFA degrees in both fiction and in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa.
"Did I ever consider not becoming a writer — yes! Did I ever consider becoming a writer before I gave up my science career — no!" said Li.
She is currently working on a novel with the theme "leave-taking," where the characters, which were all trapped in a specific place and in a specific historical moment, seem to be constantly uprooting themselves — by emigrating, by changing names or lovers, by dying — from their own history. That is also the theme of the story for the “20 Under 40” issue later in the summer.
The New Yorker released its last list of writers worth watching "The Future of American Fiction" in 1999, with many of them since becoming well-known writers, including the late David Foster Wallace and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides.
Edited by: Jacques
Source: The New Yorker & Global Times