Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (Li)

I loved Li’s novel, The Vagrants. The writing remains remarkable here. There are more than a few lines that just beg to be underlined because of the sheer beauty of them. The first story (or novella? When does a story become a novella? This ‘story’ is 78 pages), “Kindness,” is my favorite. There are a few strands that run throughout that make sense to me, like the clash of the generations, old China vs. new America, non-traditional families and the power of stories. The pattern of older men with younger women is harder to understand. Perhaps it’s because Li first came to my attention as one of The New Yorker’s top 20 fiction writers under 40, but the emphasis here on older characters surprised me. Li’s insights about all things, love, aging, parents and children, are as nuanced as they are wise.

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