Saturday, June 23, 2018

Lillian Li

Lillian Li's work has been published in Guernica, Granta, Glimmer Train, Bon Appetit, and Jezebel. Originally from the D.C. metro area, she lives in Ann Arbor.

Li's new novel is Number One Chinese Restaurant.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
If you love trippy, experimental ruminations on the intersections of technology and the human condition, read Rubik by Elizabeth Tan. A connected short story collection, it's so smart, so inventive, and so emotionally resonant. Every story stacks on top of the one before, but also the one that comes after, like one of Escher's staircases. An example of its brilliance? The "Homestyle Country Pie" one of the characters eats right before she's hit by a car is reincarnated in a later story where we follow it in gorgeous, chilling detail from factory birth to convenience store life to roadside death.

I've also been reeling over Casey Plett's Little Fish. Plett can fucking write. And she can fucking feel. Little Fish follows Wendy Reimer, a Canadian trans woman who's in her stagnating thirties, and what happens after she finds out her late grandfather, a devout Mennonite, might have been transgender himself. It's also about so much more: the power and limitation of friendship, the conditional love of family, the world's cruelty toward the marginalized and the ongoing resistance of staying alive. I think these blurbs from two fellow trans writers Meredith Russo and Zoey Leigh Person (respectively) say it best: "Casey remains one of THE authors to read if you want to understand the interior lives of trans women in this century." "There is a dark place most novels don't touch. If you've ever been there, maybe you know how exhilarating it can be to read a book like this, a book that captures the darkness so honestly, so accurately, that you can finally begin to let it go."

Finally, in honor of Anthony Bourdain, I've been reading Kitchen Confidential aloud. I've read and reread this book countless times, but it's been a whole new experience to hear it. Every sentence, every word is perfect; a delight, and sometimes a welcome assault to all the senses.
Visit Lillian Li's website.

--Marshal Zeringue