Rachel Cusk is the author of the Outline trilogy, among other books. Coventry, a collection of essays, will be published in August.
 (July 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

The Case of Yiyun Li

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life

by Yiyun Li

Where Reasons End

by Yiyun Li
The effort of self-transformation is generally regarded as an improving journey, whatever its vicissitudes may have been. The writer Yiyun Li, who left China in 1996 as a trained scientist and set herself the task of becoming instead an American novelist, might appear to belong to that narrative of success. For an immigrant writer, the psychological problem of lost links can be meaningful terrain; likewise, the abandoned homeland can be fruitfully considered, from a safe distance. Yet creativity is no fortress, and even language—as Li has proved—is a bridge that can be burned. You can unlearn your own language as a stratagem for escaping the rudeness of memory, but events will still pile up, with or without an identity willing to organize them.