“One of our major novelists” (Salman Rushdie) tells the story of a woman reflecting on her uncompromising life, and the life of a former lover, in this provocative novel.
“Yiyun Li is one of my favorite writers, and Must I Go is an extraordinary book.”—Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Female Persuasion and The Interestings
Lilia Liska has shrewdly outlived three husbands, raised five children, and seen the arrival of seventeen grandchildren. Now she has turned her keen attention to the diary of a long-forgotten man named Roland Bouley, with whom she once had a fleeting affair.
Increasingly obsessed with Roland's intimate history, Lilia begins to annotate the diary with her own rather different version of events, revealing the surprising, long-held secrets of her past. She returns inexorably to the memory of her daughter Lucy. This is a novel about life in all its messy glory, and of a life lived, by the extraordinary Lilia, absolutely on its own terms. With great candor and insight, Yiyun Li navigates the twin poles of grief and resilience, loss and rebirth, that compass a human heart.
About the Author
Yiyun Li is the author of six works of fiction—Must I Go, Where Reasons End, Kinder Than Solitude, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, The Vagrants, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl—and the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. She is the recipient of many awards, including a PEN/Hemingway Award, a PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and a Windham-Campbell Prize, and was featured in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 fiction issue. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
“This brilliant novel examines lives lived, losses accumulated, and the slipperiness of perception. Yiyun Li writes deeply, drolly, and with elegance about history, even as it’s happening. She is one of my favorite writers, and Must I Go is an extraordinary book.”—Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Female Persuasion and The Interestings
“There is no writer like Yiyun Li, no one in contemporary literature who is as masterful at digging into the uncertainty of our existence on this earth. Must I Go is sheer brilliance. In constructing a narrative that allows us to look into the past in order to reckon with what comes next, Li does something truly transformative: She remakes our world for us, so we can figure out how to keep living in it.”—Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here and The Family Fang
“Any new book by Yiyun Li is cause for celebration, but now more than ever do we need the clarity and humaneness of her vision. Must I Go takes us into her familiar and powerful emotional territory, brilliantly exploring how what we love, what we lose, and what we mourn make, unmake, and remake us into the human beings that we are.”—Sigrid Nunez, New York Times bestselling author of The Friend
“A portrait of resilience like no other, Must I Go takes Yiyun Li—and the reader—into entirely new emotional territory. Bracing and almost unnervingly perceptive, this is wisdom literature for our time.”—Gish Jen, author of The Girl at the Baggage Claim
“I’ve always found the openness, the near shapelessness of Li’s work to be part of its beauty. Her characters are never coerced; they are patiently observed, they are allowed to live, allowed to disappoint.”—The New York Times
“Must I Go is a triumph of a novel about how we navigate grief that seems unmanageable.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Li is a master of going to the places where words fail us. . . . Perhaps her greatest talent lies in her peerless experimentation with our language of human emotion—its insufficiencies, its dissatisfactions, its refusal to capture the depth and breadth of our feelings. . . . Li is a truly peerless voice in contemporary fiction, and Must I Go is another unforgettable entry in a long career of excellence.”—Esquire
“Whereas Joan Didion wrote that we tell stories to live, Li delves into the ways our narratives bury the dead.”—Los Angeles Times
“[Li] is adept and precise at getting to the heart of this particular, profound kind of pain, and exploring the bittersweet tinge on memories of love and loss when one's own life is inexorably slipping away.”—Refinery29
“Li has crafted an epic story of a life full of regret, but also of hope and perseverance and the importance of passing down our legacies.”—Vulture