Monday, March 7, 2011

Yiyun Li: What the Judges Had to Say About Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

When the three judges for The Story Prize make their choices, they provide citations for the books. This year's judges were bookseller Marie du VaureGranta editor John Freeman, and author Jayne Anne Phillips. We include the citations in congratulatory letters we present to each finalist, along with their checks ($20,000 to the winner, $5,000 to the other two finalists). To protect the confidentiality of the judges' votes and the integrity of the process, we don't attribute citations to any particular judge.

Here's what the judges had to say about finalist Yiyun Li's Gold Boy, Emerald Girl:
In deceptively simple prose, Li plumbs the depths of the human soul, managing through her lonely characters to put us in touch with our own yearnings. China is the setting for most of the stories in Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, but they could be happening anywhere, so strong is Li’s empathy for her characters and the universal sense of humanity she conveys. "Kindness," the long story that begins the collection, sets the tone for the entire book presenting a seemingly uneventful life that hones in on the utterly gripping interior drama of its narrator. Each story that follows opens gently like a flower and ends—to our astonishment—in full bloom. Li’s fine and careful work shows that simple can be profound and depth of feeling trumps elaborate machinations. To be so wonderfully in control and yet so keenly attuned to emotion is a rare gift indeed.
photo © Eric Richards