Yiyun Li is the winner of the prestigious Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. The Vagrants, set in 1979 China, is the story of those affected by the execution of a 28-year-old counterrevolutionary. Though suffering, Li's characters nevertheless struggle to maintain hope amid cruel circumstance.
©2009 Yiyun Li; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
“Extraordinary . . . beautifully paced, exquisitely detailed . . . In this most amazing first novel, Yiyun Li has found a way to combine the jeweled precision of her short-story-writer’s gaze with a spellbinding vision of the power of the human spirit.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Powerful and thoughtful . . . a revelation.” (The Washington Post)
“The Vagrants is pure pleasure and a must-read.” (San Francisco Magazine)
The writing is poetic and the images vivid. Characters are interesting and thoughtfully, carefully, gradually revealed. It is a grim story and a grim setting. Very interesting experience of "small city" 1970's China and some of its citizens.
I would not listen to another audiobook narrated by Jackie Chung, however. Her reading is flat--even compared to my own mind's!
Yiyun Li is a natural story-teller. Her prose is simple and direct and therein lies its power. The Vagrants is set in the fictional small Chinese town of Muddy River in 1979, right after the end of the brutal Cultural Revolution. It follows the lives of a host of characters from the power elite, down to the poorest vagrants. Their lives are intertwined by geographical identity and the overwhelming impact that Mao’s Cultural Revolution had on society. The characters are unforgettable. This is a profoundly sad novel, but its illumination of the human condition is revealing. The Vagrants is a very good book, and one that painlessly teaches much about China’s recent history.
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