Yiyun Li

Must I Go
  • Must I Go

  • Richly expansive and deeply moving, an intimate novel of secret lives and painful histories from one of the finest storytellers we have

    Lilia Liska is 81. She has shrewdly outlived three husbands, raised five children and seen the arrival of seventeen grandchildren. Now she has turned her keen attention to a strange little book published by a vanity press: the diary of a long-forgotten man named Roland Bouley, with whom she once had a fleeting affair.

    Increasingly obsessed by this fragment of intimate history, Lilia begins to annotate the diary with her own rather different version of events. Gradually she undercuts Roland's charming but arrogant voice with an incisive and deeply moving commentary. She reveals to us the surprising, long-held secrets of her past. And she returns inexorably to her daughter, Lucy, who took her own life at the age of 27.

    Must I Go is an unconventional epistolary novel, a gleefully one-way correspondence between the very-much-alive Lilia and the long-departed Roland. Though mortality is ever-present, this is ultimately a novel about life, in all its messy glory. Life lived, for the extraordinary Lilia, absolutely on its own terms. With exquisite subtlety and insight, Yiyun Li navigates the twin poles of grief and resilience, loss and rebirth, that compass a human heart.

RELEASED 27/08/2020

Yiyun Li is the author of two novels, The Vagrants and Kinder Than Solitude, and two short-story collections, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, as well as the memoir, Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life. She has won literary awards including the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the Guardian First Book Award, and was listed among Granta's 21 Best of Young American Novelists 2007. Her stories have been published in the New Yorker, Paris Review and elsewhere. She is a MacArthur Fellow and a Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University.