A luminous memoir about reading, writing and how to find meaning in a life.
'What a long way it is from one life to another. Yet why write if not for that distance?'
Written over two years while the author battled depression, in and out of hospital, Dear Friend is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living. Interweaving personal memoir with a wide-ranging celebration of writers and books, this is a journey of recovery through literature.
From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Kierkegaard and Larkin, Yiyun Li traces the themes that have preoccupied these writers and herself: time and transformation, presence and absence, the impulse to abandon life and the impulse to carry on. Drawing on personal experiences - her unstable mother, her time in the Chinese army - she constructs a beautiful, interior exploration of selfhood and what is required to choose life.
“A remarkable account of literary life from an important and gifted writer”
“Poignant and insightful. Explores harrowing subjects, but Li writes beautifully. A compelling insight into a fragile but endlessly inquisitive mind”
“Heart-rending, profound. A terribly beautiful gift to the reader”
Neel Mukherjee, New Statesman
“As powerful as any of her award-winning fiction. A personal anatomy of melancholy”
“Reveals, gloriously, the companionship, intimacy, and insight that can come from obsession with the written word”
LA Review of Books
“Extraordinary. A storyteller of the first order”