The University of Iowa

Writers' Workshop, English NWP Alumna Yiyun Li Named MacArthur Fellow

September 28th, 2010

From University News Services

Writer Yiyun Li, an alumna of the University of Iowa’s Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the English Nonfiction Writing Program (NWP), has been named a MacArthur Fellow.

Li, author of a novel “The Vagrants” and a story collection “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” (2005), moved to the United States from China in 1996 to pursue a graduate degree in immunology at the UI. She eventually shifted her studies over to writing in her adopted language of English.

Li is described as a fiction writer whose spare and quietly understated style of storytelling draws readers into powerful and emotionally compelling explorations of her characters’ struggles, set both in China and the United States.

Since 2008, she has been an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Davis. Her additional works include “Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories” (2010) and short stories and essays in many publications.

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $500,000.

More information about Li, including a video, may be found at