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Where Reasons End

A Novel
By: Yiyun Li
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 4 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A fearless writer confronts grief and transforms it into art, in an audiobook of surprising beauty and love, "a masterpiece by a master" (Elizabeth McCracken, Vanity Fair).

"Li has converted the messy and devastating stuff of life into a remarkable work of art." (The Wall Street Journal)

Named one of the 10 Best Fiction Books of the Year by Time and one of the Best Books of the Year by Parul Seghal, The New York Times • NPR • The GuardianThe Paris Review

The narrator of Where Reasons End writes, "I had but one delusion, which I held on to with all my willpower: We once gave Nikolai a life of flesh and blood; and I’m doing it over again, this time by words."

Yiyun Li meets life’s deepest sorrows as she imagines a conversation between a mother and child in a timeless world. Composed in the months after she lost a child to suicide, Where Reasons End trespasses into the space between life and death as mother and child talk, free from old images and narratives. Deeply moving, these conversations portray the love and complexity of a relationship.

Written with originality, precision, and poise, Where Reasons End is suffused with intimacy, inescapable pain, and fierce love.

Praise for Where Reasons End

"Where Reasons End belongs to a band of books produced in the forge of intense pain; their authors, aristocrats of suffering - think of The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, Joan Didion’s memoirs of the deaths of her husband and daughter in close succession.... For Li, to apply her own language to suicide means to understand suicide as the most private of decisions, to address it without cheap sentiment or condemnation.... As the title alerts us, this book takes place in a territory beyond reason, in all its connotations - beyond explanation or understanding. The mother does not require them. In the final reckoning, there is nothing she needs from Nikolai other than his company, his ghost; to carry him for a moment more, to keep the story going." (The New York Times)

"This expansive, heartfelt examination of grief in novel form moves through a series of conversations between the mourning mother and her elusive, yet vividly present son. This utterly original novel will move anyone who has experienced loss in any form." (Jan Weissmiller, Forbes)

"Yiyun Li’s gutting novel imagines a conversation between a mother and child, months after the child’s suicide. The prose is ethereal and electric, radiating unthinkable pain and profound love." (BuzzFeed)

©2019 Yiyun Li (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A mother and her lost teenage son have conversations in a middle-life between this one and the next in this triumph of compassion and language, suffused with love and all its attendant parts: private jokes, fond grudges, beloved arguments. A masterpiece by a master." (Elizabeth McCracken, Vanity Fair)

"Memoirs often demand something from their readers: absolution for flaws, sympathy for travails, admiration for triumphs. Novels tend to be more generous, but Where Reasons End is an especially rare work of alchemy. With this book, Ms. Li has converted the messy and devastating stuff of life into a remarkable work of art." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Li’s creative engagement with words and with their insufficiency and her willingness to confront the most haunting truths equip her to write a book about grief unlike any other." (HuffPost)

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  • LJ
  • 04-15-19

A Story of Words that Go Beyond Itself

Yiyun LI masterfully dialogues with her deceased son and the poignancy of their lost relationship takes on a life energy that opens the heart and disavows its conceit-that this is all a mother’s projection in order to spare herself the sense that her son is gone.

The exquisite nature of their rapport, their shared love of language, ideas, music, poetry, baking, knitting all are used to reflect memory, emotion, and experiential immediacy for the reader. While the conversation is sometimes competitive, sometimes humorous, it is always evocative. Yiyun LI needs to live in words and uses these words to resurrect her son. How long can I be a fly on the wall I began to wonder. I didn’t want this book to end like Yiyun LI didn’t want her son to take his life. This book is powerful, beautifully constructed, and completely unnerving.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A fine listen

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Where Reasons End. Maybe it reads with my profundity but as a listen, it was merely okay. The performance was well done.

1 person found this helpful