Quotes by Yiyun Li

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Almost all of the stories in The Matchmaker, the Apprentice, and the Football Fan are told in the first person, yet, depending on the angle and distance of the narrator, they exert different effects. The best are those in which the speaker never poses as an objective outsider. (...) Other stories are damaged by the urge to distance the narrator. more...

Every place is a good place, only time goes wrong. more...

Only the smaller fish pay for the goverment's face-lift. The big ones - they just become bigger and fatter. more...

But loneliness is as delusive a belief in the pertinence of the world as is love: in choosing to feel lonely, as in choosing to love, one carves a space next to oneself to be filled by others - a friend, a lover, a toy poodle, a violinist on the radio. more...

What is revolution except a systematic way for one species to eat another alive? more...

The boy will remain a son and never become a father. He will be forgotten by the crowd once his blood is rinsed clean from the ground; his sister will think of him but soon she will forget him, too. He will live on only in Han's memory, a child punished not for his own insincerity but someone else's disbelief. more...

Mrs. Pang was once a nanny for me, and she spoils me the way I imagined kindhearted women would spoil an orphan, loving me for whom I am, exactly the opposite of my mother, whose love I have to earn with great effort and with little success. more...

The decaying that had dragged on for too long had only turned tragedy into nuisance; death, when it strikes, better completes its annihilating act on the first try. more...

To write about a struggle amidst the struggling: one must hope that the muddling will end someday. more...

What a long way it is from one life to another: yet why write if not for that distance; if things can be let go, every before replaced by an after. more...

A real dreamer must have a mutual trust with time. more...

I would never describe a cloud as 'fluffy'-in Chinese or in English. more...

Even the most innocent person, when cornered, is capable of a heartless crime. more...

She wonders if this is what people call falling in love, the desire to be with someone for every minute of the rest of her life so strong that sometimes she is frightened of herself. more...

In film, you have to present everything on the screen so it's the opposite of what I usually do with storytelling. It forced me to think about how people walk, where they sit at that moment. With Princess of Nebraska, it was just fun to watch because the movie was so far from the story. It was very much a different story. more...

Your characters are always your children. And while you are writing, you're keeping them safe. Now they're ready to go into the world and it's sad. I'm happy with the way the novel came out but all the characters' ending really saddened me. more...

Regarding heroism, I grew up in a culture where you learn about heroes and heroines all the time. In a way, when you call someone a hero or heroine, it's the same as calling them a villain. more...

One easy mistake to make with the first novel is to expand the short story. Some things are better as a story; you cannot dilute things into a novel. I think the first hundred pages of a novel are very important. That's where you set things up: the world, the characters. Once you've set that up, it'll be much easier. more...

I always tell my students to go back after a hundred pages and rewrite from the beginning. It's really harder if you've already finished four hundred pages and realize the first hundred aren't working. more...


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