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Lili: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Annie Wang
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $5.01 (39%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Like so many of her young compatriots, Lili Lin lives on the margins of society–she has been jailed for “having a corrupt lifestyle and hooliganism,” and at 24 she is unemployable because she doesn’t have connections and unmarriageable because she isn’t a virgin. Estranged from her parents, restless and cynical, she drifts from day to day. Then she meets an American journalist infatuated with China, who gradually opens her eyes to what is happening. Together they embark on a journey that will profoundly change Lili’s view of her country and of herself.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The only difference between feudal times and our own is that back then `bad women' were seen as amoral fox spirits, whereas now they are labeled corrupt bourgeois," muses bad girl Lili Lin, in the wake of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The antiheroine of this debut English-language novel by Chinese-American writer Wang struggles through life in Communist China, finding her way toward the tragedy of Tiananmen Square. Busted for "hooliganism" in her early 20s, Lili is sentenced to three months of rehabilitation through labor. Returning home to her music teaching parents, who teeter on the edge of official disgrace, she has a hard time finding work and enjoys confusing the "Confucians" to whom she is a "fox spirit." Lili decides to embrace unemployment as a Taoist "Great Void" spiritual experience, but the direction of her life changes when she meets Roy Goldstein, an American journalist and friend of her childhood friend Yuan. Through Roy's appreciation of classical Chinese culture, Lili experiences a reawakening of faith in her heritage, while remaining clear-sighted about the present political horrors. In a schizophrenic social atmosphere in which she is at once an emerging cosmopolitan artist and the concubine of a white devil, she arrives, along with others, to witness the revolt of students in Tiananmen in Beijing. Like Thornton Wilder in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Wang develops an engaging novel of fate exploring what draws an individual toward large happenings on a social stage. Her version, set in a China at once convincing and utterly foreign, both attracts and terrifies. (June)Forecast: Wang was a prodigy in China, beginning her career as writer and radio host in her teens. She now works for the Washington Post in Beijing; this is her first book in English, and she will embark on a five-city author tour. Her background and her sharp, unsparing perspective should attract attention and translate into solid sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A published author in China and an affiliate with the Washington Post's Beijing bureau, Wang presents her first work in English, a political, historical, and lightly romantic novel. Set in China just prior to the Tiananmen uprising, the book introduces 24-year-old Lili Lin, just released from prison after being sentenced for hooliganism. Unable to find steady employment, she accepts a friend's offer to work as a musician and plays the erhu for foreign tourists while on a trip to inner Mongolia. While there, Lili meets and falls in love with U.S. journalist Roy Goldstein, eventually moving in with him and risking possible imprisonment for illegal cohabitation. Told in the first person, this multilayered work reveals the inequities that result from class differences, gender differences, political affiliation, and poverty in China. Like author Hong Ying (Daughter of the River, LJ 1/99), Wang brings a woman's perspective to her storytelling, as she describes the oppression of free-spirited and free-thinking women in China. Wang's writing is clear, full of imagery, and easy to follow; recommended for most general fiction collections and especially for Asian fiction collections.
- Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 419 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385720505
  • Publisher: Anchor (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUDI56
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,231,030 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Lili is forceful and rich in ethnographic insight. I couldn't put it down. Vivid and intense, this novel convincingly delves into rarely seen areas of contemporary China. To give but a few examples, we encounter a reform through labor camp for 'hooligan girls', the eclectic milieu of the Beijing art scene, the hidden counter-culture of youth street gangs, and the emergence of a distinct new voice, manifest in many ways, including the 1989 Student Movement. A scene I will not soon forget: a nauseating 'interview' by members of public security. I marveled at the writer's talent for capturing the incredibly complex situations of rural and urban China with economy and verve. This novel made me weep. It made me wish too that I could return to China immediately and witness more of its amazing, ongoing transformation. Bravo. Highly recommended for people who think about China seriously, and for people who love literature.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a compelling view of China's recent past May 30, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This novel is recommended for anyone interested in China's recent past. Though the storyline is different, it has the same poignancy of Joan Chen's film Xiu Xiu the Sent-Down Girl. Lili is caught in the turmoil of China in the 1980s-- still reeling from the impact of the Cultural Revolution, and still undergoing the "growing pains" of transformation from a communist to free market society. Lili, the title character, is shorn of hope, someone who is utterly rejected by her society. Yet, somehow, she survives and manages to find new meaning in life. Lili is told from an insider's point of view-that is, someone who is intimately acquainted with Chinese society and culture. It is a window to an eastern culture that is at once fascinating and compelling. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in China or Asia
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Lili" Captivates! July 26, 2001
Format:Hardcover
As an American who has lived and traveled extensively in China, I am always interested in works focusing on the modern Chinese experience. "Lili" does not disappoint, with author Annie Wang showing remarkable insight and experience that reaches far beyond her 29 years. Ms. Wang's portrayal of rural and city life in China during the years leading up to the tragedy in Tiananmen offers us a fresh look at some of the underlying reasons behind the students, and ultimately ordinary citizens, push for democracy. She also takes us beyond the beauty, tranquility and myth of the Chinese countryside and reveals some of the desperate conditions that actually exist there. Startling when one realizes that 80 percent of the population of China is rural. "Lili" is a great read and is difficult to put down. And with a love story navigating the cultural and philosophical contrasts between the idealistic American Roy and the harsh realism of Lili's existence, it will not be long before Hollywood takes notice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not-often seen perspectives on modern mainland China March 21, 2002
By Keto
Format:Hardcover
I think in many ways, modern chinese literature is different from western literature. One example is in how stories are resolved. Many times in western stories and novels, there is a definite resolution, i.e. the bad guys are brought to justice, the protagonist has an epiphany, and so on.
What first disturbed me about reading SOME mainland chinese stories and novels is the seemingly abrupt endings. People are suffering throughout the book, and at the end--they are still suffering. Many times, not only do the bad guys get away, but they prosper. Over time, I have learned to appreciate the differences in this writing style. BTW, I would love to discuss this topic with people. My email is on my profile.
This is a great book, not so much for the overall plot, but for the plethora of perspectives and lives that we witness in Lili's travels. From peasants who resent westerners observing their bleak lives, to bohemian Bejingers, to western-style chinese rock stars, Ms. Wang really brings out the color in a society that is often shown (here in the US) to be a homogeneous society.
I didn't like the overall plot because it smacks of the basic western paternalistic plot: a foriegner is redeemed by a wise and powerful westerner. It's not as bad as that, and Ms. Wang does bring to light some of the friction that occurs because of Lili's (and other chineses') relationships with westerners, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, it's a great book, and I wish there were english translations of some of Ms. Wang's earlier works (this is her first english novel).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I have always been a great fan of literature set within China, where both rural and city life provide insight as to China's society and culture. I will admit, however, that I was extremely disappointed with this story so filled with superfluous tragedies. Yes, this novel does portray the generation that followed the Cultural Revolution, but in a manner that is much to my disliking. This book told the truly bland tale of a girl falling in love with an American. Typical. It's simply ridiculous that this rather obnoxious character, Lili, only finds redemption through a Westerner - and even now I'm not certain as to why he would fall for her. What was the only good thing about this book? Turning to the last page.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not accurate June 22, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
i had problem reading book because of language. however, what i understand is that the story is like to many other books i have read. i was recommended this book by colleague since i am learning english. i lived during that time and the book did not seem to reflect that. it was not something that should be made fictional i think. it makes me upset to read about a painful time but not written the way it happened. i have heard many good things about author but i do not think i will read other chinese books by her.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Walking an emotional knife-edge
This is hard-hitting, unstinting realism from the view of a Beijing street girl. The panorama of social situations spans the Chinese universe, and Wang's Lili witnesses all,... Read more
Published on May 18, 2011 by Brian Griffith
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at "hooliganism"
This novel uses the main character as a metaphor for the People's Republic of China. Lili presents China as hungry for the modern world while still trapped in its pre-Communist... Read more
Published on February 27, 2006 by Stephen Leahy
1.0 out of 5 stars Fabricated tale with no substance
This might have been an enjoyable read about life in China, except that the story was shallow due to under developed characters and cliche storyline. Read more
Published on July 24, 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Not too appealing to me
I think it's because of my tastes where I didn't seem to enjoy this book as much as I would have hoped. Read more
Published on May 13, 2003 by "mandykrow"
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
This book is truely a page-turner. The title character Lili is a woman who overcomes her self-loathing because she finds SOMETHING GREATER THAN HERSELF through true love and a... Read more
Published on May 8, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic and Beautiful
LILI was an assigned reading for my American literature class. I have learned so much from this book. How should I say this? Read more
Published on May 8, 2003 by "2852"
1.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent twaddle ...
Self-indulgent twaddle. A book most likely created to appeal to a certain misguided Western audience: those who find all that regurgitated, Mao-featured pop-art coming out of... Read more
Published on April 21, 2003 by GMJ
1.0 out of 5 stars Narcisstic, degrading, and insulting.
As an english educated Chinese living in Malaysia, I have to say this: This book is unimaginative, disinteresting as well as being a general insult to the whole Chinese race. Read more
Published on March 2, 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars White Boy to the Rescue: A Tired Cliché Rears It's Head
I'll give it this. The writing style in and of itself is quite good. The material however, is, if you'll excuse the pun, another story altogether. Read more
Published on February 24, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it before you go to war.
@"Lili" is Annie Wang's first novel written in English. She is not a Chinese American, but Chinese. So English is not her native language. Read more
Published on September 29, 2002 by Hiroshi Watanabe
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