Author Yiyun Li’s Reading Opens Visiting Writers Series at UMass Amherst

Yiyun Li (MacArthur Foundation photo)
Yiyun Li (MacArthur Foundation photo)

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA for Poets and Writers program presents a reading by author Yiyun Li on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall.

MFA graduate program director Jeff Parker describes Li as “one of our finest living writers, a novelist of the first order and a certified MacArthur genius” and cites her most recent novel, Kinder Than Solitude, as “a masterpiece of contemporary fiction.”

Li is the author of three other works of fiction, The Vagrants, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl; a children’s book, The Story of Gilgamesh, and a memoir, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. She grew up in China and came to the United States to pursue a science career in immunology before she became a writer.

She is the recipient of many awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award, Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She was named by The New Yorker as one of the “20 under 40” fiction writers to watch. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Two of her stories, “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” and “The Princess of Nebraska,” were made into films by Wayne Wang. Li adapted the former one, which won the Golden Shell Award for Best Film at the 55th San Sebastian International Film Festival. She teaches creative writing at Princeton University.

Li is reading as part of the MFA program’s Visiting Writers Series. Celebrating its 54th year, the nationally renowned series presents emerging and established writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. The series is sponsored by the MFA for Poets and Writers and the Juniper Initiative, and made possible by support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the UMass Arts Council, and the English department. The reading is free and open to the public.