Yiyun Li is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I have read and posted on her novels, The Vagrants and Kinder Than Solitude and several of her wonderful short stories. I was honored to be given a review copy of her latest book, a collection of essays centering on the central place of reading in her life. One of the greatest values of the reading life is it can give you a reason to keep going when life seems pointless. On the deepest level Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life can be seen as a reflection on how her love of reading kept her from committing suicide. One of her most loved authors, William Trevor, with whom she has visited, just died recently and I know how sad this must have made Yiyun Li. She also, as do many writers, greatly admires Katherine Mansfield. She talks about her memories of her trip to Ireland.There is a very powerful chapter on suicide as a public act. She speaks elegantly about the challenges in writing in English versus her birth language Chinese.
Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a profound work on the reading life, deeply felt. It includes a very interesting list of books mentioned.