Yiyun Li: ‘Rebecca West made me weep unabashedly in an airport’

The Chinese-American author wishes she’d read Moby-Dick and more Roald Dahl – and finds West’s This Real Night uncontrollably moving

The book I am currently reading
A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson (with regular help from the OED and Merriam-Webster). All words are good words. I find reading a dictionary the best way to befriend them at a time when they are so often abused in public life.

The book that changed my life
Every book I finish reading (I don’t finish every book I start) changes my life. Some move me an inch; others take the ground from under me. Both experiences are essential.

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The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen review – stories of anger, humour and hope

Set in Vietnam and among the Vietnamese communities of California, this accomplished collection from the Pulitzer-winning author sees characters face up to the ghosts of the past About 15 years ago, I taught A Problem from Hell, Samantha Power’s book on genocides, to a group of 18- and 19-year-olds in a midwest university in the US. In my class there was a young man who had spent his boyhood in Bosnia as Nato bombed his hometown. My other students, awed by his connection to the genocide in the textbook, asked him what it was like to grow up in a warzone. “A pretty normal childhood as you had here,” he said. “We played poker inside a lot, and when there was no bombing we kicked a ball in the street.” In the past few years the world has seen a rapid increase in refugees, with the number hitting 60 ...