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Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel por Yiyun Li
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Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel (edição 2014)

por Yiyun Li (Autor)

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2651478,854 (3.52)17
A tale set in America and China follows the experiences of three people who in their youths were involved in a mysterious accident that resulted in a friend's fatal poisoning and years later are haunted by the possibility that one of them actually committed a murder.
Membro:TheBookJunky
Título:Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel
Autores:Yiyun Li (Autor)
Informação:Random House (2014), Edition: First Edition, 336 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****
Etiquetas:library, fiction, netgalley, china, america, arc

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Kinder Than Solitude por Yiyun Li

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Mostrando 1-5 de 14 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Unrelentingly bleak. Three friends may or may not be responsible for the poisoning of a fourth. Of the three, one remains in China, the other two go to the US, but all three lead lonely, isolated lives, whether by choice or by bad luck. There is a suggestion that the story is a metaphor for the post-Tienanmen generation and the destruction of the old neighborhoods and ways of Beijing, but it's pretty subtle.

I thought the writing was a little woolly in places - especially when compared to the crystalline prose of her short stories - but there is no doubt that Li's a talented writer and this is a brilliant, if upsetting, look at human nature. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
The second half of the book is far more effective. In the first part the narrator is deliberately withholding information about the crime. We are meeting the characters and moving backwards and forward in time, often to years afterward and yet we aren't told the information that is essential. Can you do that and keep the readers trust? Not really since the withholding is a conceit and the crime is the most important event in the lives of those we meet. By the second half the various parallels between characters and events begin to deliver and the book is far more interesting. Bejing is a major part of the book and it like the characters is being torn apart. The three central friends of the book live in the present in a state of paralysis not unlike the victim who was poisoned and lives on for twenty one years as a ambulatory vegetable. What Yiyun Li does however is different from what I have seen by other authors of Chinese heritage. Here the characters are capable of minute dissection of the emotional reactions of others. Even a gesture can be looked at and considered at length. While some of the characters possess the kind of pragmaticism that I had equated with the Chinese "character" whatever that means, there is a lot of emotional excavation and sensitivity on display here. That said the narrator has a penchant for axioms and aphorisms which ultimately can be traced back to the pervasive Maoist indocrination where life was reduced to pithy aphorisms. At times, however, I felt the narrator looked upon emotions abstractly, as if the concept of loyalty say as opposed to the feeling of loyalty was dominant. To the extent to which this propensity was meant to characterize the generation of young Chinese, it was fascinating. ( )
  Hebephrene | Jun 3, 2016 |
Solitude is not kind in the world of this novel. But there is little that is kind, so solitude becomes a refuge and false haven.

This is a powerful and intensely meditative novel. Children on the treacherous shoals of their teenage years sense the dangers, but don’t really understand the nature of them, and can be helpless to avoid them, especially if they already feel isolated. They say false things, or do seemingly malicious deeds, without fully appreciating the consequences which may then go on to haunt them.

Li writes exquisite prose — this alone is worth the read. These are intensely wrought sentences of astute insights, illustrating rich complexities of thought.
“A born murderess, she had mastered the skill of snuffing out each moment before releasing it to join the other passed moments. Nothing connects one self to another; time effaced does not become memory”

”…his voice had left a crack through which loneliness flooded into her room.”

“If she had ever felt anything close to passion, it was a passion of the obliterating kind: any connection made by another human being, by accident or by intention, had to be erased; the void she maintained around herself was her only meaningful possession.”


The book is littered with aphorisms and observations about the human condition:
“…one’s preparation for departure should begin long before arrival”

“Do not expose your soul uninvited”

“Nothing destroys a livable life more completely than unfounded hope”

“It takes courage to find solace in trivialities, willfulness not to let trivialities usurp one’s life.”


Solitude and loneliness are tiring to read about, never mind experiencing. By the end I felt exhausted, wrung out, from the tension of repression and loneliness that permeates the story. Nonetheless, highly recommended. Just pair it with the right mood accordingly.

(ARC from Random House via NetGalley.) ( )
1 vote TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
This book is being discussed by my book club for February 2016. If it wasn't for that fact I am not sure I would have finished it. I'm not saying the book is poorly written but I didn't understand the motivation of the characters nor what the book's overall message was.

Ruyu is an orphan who was raised by two elderly women who were Christians in a provincial city. Ruyu had been told from her early life that God had a purpose for her. When it came time to enter highschool Ruyu was sent to Beijing to stay with a couple who had ties to the great aunts. This was just a few months after the failed revolution in Tianamen Square. The couple had a daughter, Shaoai, who had taken part in the demonstrations. This placed her under suspicion and eventually she was dismissed from her college. Ruyu and two others from her compound, Boyang and Moran, all go to the same high school and spend a great deal of time together. One day when they visit the university chemistry lab where Boyang's mother works one of them steals a chemical. Shaoai ends up being poisoned by the chemical but it is not clear if it was suicide because she was in despair or if one of the others administered it. Shaoai does not die but her mind is destroyed and she needs constant care. More than 20 years later when Shaoai dies is when the book starts. Boyang, who has stayed in Beijing and seen to Shaoai's care, emails Moran and Ruyu who are both living in the United States about her death. The narrative switches back and forth from present day to the past around the time of the poisoning. We see what Moran, Ruyu and Boyang have done with their lives. All of them have been married and divorced and none seem to have any strong ties to any other person.

Salman Rushdie blurbs on the front cover that "This is an exceptional novel..." but I didn't feel that. I can't even ascribe the failings to poor translation because Yiyun Li lives in the US and writes in English. There are some interesting pieces about life in China just after Tianamen Square. The juxtaposition of present day life in China is also interesting but the characters are so wooden and one-dimensional that the whole novel does not work for me. ( )
  gypsysmom | Feb 8, 2016 |
First let me say I loved Yiyun Li's The Vagrants. Kinder Than Solitude--not so much.

The focus here is on four individuals and on an incident that occurred 30 years before the novel opens, at a time when the individuals were in their teens, and which left one of them in a vegetative state. After the incident, Moran and Ruyu left China for the US. Boyand has stayed behind in Peking and become a successful businessman. He has kept in touch with the family of Shaoai, the woman in the vegetative state. Over the years, Boyand periodically emails Moran and Ruyu the status of Shaoai, but otherwise there has been no contact between the three. Boyand is not even aware if Moran and Ruyu receive or read the emails. As the novel opens, Shaoai has just died, and Boyand has dutifully notified Moran and Ruyu. The novel proceeds alternating between the contemporary time, the time of the teen friendship of Moran, Ruyu and Boyand, and the lives of the three survivors over the years since the incident.

Yiyun Li says the book is about characters who have to make sense of a death. I never really connected with the book, and it was not one I looked forward to picking up each night.

2 1/2 stars ( )
3 vote arubabookwoman | Oct 19, 2015 |
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A tale set in America and China follows the experiences of three people who in their youths were involved in a mysterious accident that resulted in a friend's fatal poisoning and years later are haunted by the possibility that one of them actually committed a murder.

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813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century

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