Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Yiyun Li's "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" from Spring 2008 issue, Zoetrope: All Story
Do moments that define our parents lives eventually determine how we will live out our own lives? Yiyun Li's "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" seeks to answer that question with this lonely story between a father and his recently divorced daughter. Little do they understand the similarities in their domestic affairs, but it's clear to the reader that silence is a large problem in all their relationships. Li's story seems to ponder whether or not culture and work play a role in the decisions people make or whether people make choices based on the confines of their own personality regardless of culture, place or time. The story feels universal, and it's that universality that makes the story so haunting to me.
I leave this story wondering where the line of denial and self-sacrifice is, and if sometimes they're not blurred for the sake of self-preservation rather than doing what's best for all concerned.
If you've read Yiyun Li's other stories, this one won't disappoint.