Celebrating New Asian American Writing: Yiyun Li and Jia Tolentino

Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 4:30 pm
Speaker(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Program in American Studies
Lewis Center for the Arts
Department of English
Program in Journalism

Yiyun Li

Photo of Yiyun Li. Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications

Yiyun Li. Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications

Yiyun Li’s debut short story collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, The Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. Her novel The Vagrants won the gold medal of California Book Award for fiction, and was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, her second collection, was a finalist for the Story Prize and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Her most recent book is a novel, Where Reasons End (Random House, 2019). She is also the recipient of The Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award, Benjamin H. Danks Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She was named by The New Yorker as one of “20 under 40” fiction writers to watch. Her work also has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, Granta, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among others.

Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996 to pursue a career in immunology before she became a writer. She earned a B.S. from Peking University in Beijing in 1996 and earned her M.S. and an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Iowa in 2000 and 2005, respectively. She most recently taught fiction at the University of California, Davis, where she received the 2011 Chancellor’s Fellowship, one of the highest and most prestigious faculty honors at the university.

Jia Tolentino

Photo of Jia Tolentino. Photo by Elena Mudd

Jia Tolentino. Photo by Elena Mudd

Jia Tolentino is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of the essay collection Trick Mirror (Random House, 2019). Formerly, she was the deputy editor at Jezebel and a contributing editor at The Hairpin. She grew up in Texas, went to University of Virginia, and got her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. Her work has also appeared in the The New York Times Magazine, Grantland, and Pitchfork, among other places. She lives in Brooklyn.