Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: "Kinder Than Solitude" by Yiyun Li

The more books I read from The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 Class of 2010, the more I begin to think that the list was rigged, and was set up to only highlight authors who modern academia wants people to be reading and put high on a pedestal. For every good writer on that list, such as Karen Russell, Philipp Meyer, ZZ Packer and Wells Tower, they had two that were filling a void for a recently deceased author, like David Bezmozgis and Yiyun Li, whose most recent novel, Kinder Than Solitude, I have just read, and it nothing short of a snoozer, filled with characters whose conflicts aren’t unique with traits that are painfully interchangeable. I read her first novel, The Vagrants, a few years ago, and I found it passable, but God help me if I remember anything about it. This novel is novel is a little worse, it flirts with some cool ideas that I was kind of interested in, but it never touches on any of them, leaving you unsatisfied and begging for it to be over. The book concerns three friends who are separated by continents of land as well as emotions and connection. Each was somehow implicit in a crime from when they were children that involved one of their good friends getting poisoned. Now that they are all grown up and wallowing in their separate miseries, the death of another one of their friends will bring them back together, for better or worse. There is not much here of interest, certainly none of the action is going to propel you to the end of the story. I liked toward the end, when the details of the crime are released, the idea of a meek life morphing into one of violence, but it never gets beyond that. Not a very impressive book, and nothing I can recommend.

Rating: 2/5

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