Interview: Yiyun Li answers questions ahead of 2012 Edinburgh Fringe

The Chinese American author will unveil her new short story collection Elsewhere and chat with Hari Kunzru at the Book Festival


This article is from 2012.

Interview: Yiyun Li answers questions before the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe

First record you ever bought
I don’t remember

Last extravagant purchase you made
An 1894 edition of Turgenev’s Sketches from a Hunter’s Album.

First film you saw that really moved you

Last lie you told
I can’t remember.

First movie you ever went on a date to
The Graduate.

Last time you cried

First thing you do when you’ve got time off work
I don’t really get off work – I read and write and then think about what I read and write all day.

Last great meal you cooked
A simple sweetcorn salad followed by baked salmon.

First crush
A classmate in middle school.

Last book you read
One ArtElizabeth Bishop’s selected letters.

First great piece of advice you were given
Smile even when you don’t feel like smiling; crying makes your face look ugly – given by my father.

Last time you were star struck
I have never been star struck so I am still waiting for the first time.

First thing you’d do if you ran the country
Increase funding for libraries.

Last meal on earth – what would it be
Can’t imagine!

First song you’ll sing at karaoke
I have never sung karaoke.

Last time you exploited your position to get something
This morning when I made my sons practise their instruments (piano and oboe).

First time you realised you were famous
I am still waiting for that realisation to come.

Last time someone criticised your work
Yesterday, when my children pointed out that I was not making sense most of the time.

First three words your friends would use to describe you
I don’t know.

Last time you made an impulse buy and regretted it
I don’t remember having ever made an impulse buy so haven’t had the opportunity to feel the regret.

First concert you ever attended
I don’t remember.

Last time you bought someone flowers.
A couple years ago when I went to a friend’s place.

First object you’d save from your burning home
One of my children’s paintings.

Last funny thing you saw online
A funny clip of a dog.

First job
Copying newspapers for typesetters – I believe the correct word is a scribe – age 8.

Last person you fantasised about
I don’t know.

First word you spoke
I don’t remember.

Last crime you committed
I threw away some leftover from breakfast – according to our Chinese upbringing, wasting food is a big crime.

First song at your (potential) wedding
We went to the courthouse to get married so there was no music played.

Last song at your funeral
It’s not for me to decide.

First person you’d thank in an award acceptance speech
My husband.

Last thing you recommended to someone

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning
What was the dream last night?

Last thing you think of before you go to sleep
I wonder if tomorrow will be a better day.

Yiyun Li appears at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to launch short story collection Elsewhere (16 Aug) and in conversation with Hari Kunzru (18 Aug).

This article is from 2012.

Elsewhere: Our Short Story Project: Published At Last

Over the past two years we have been commissioning short stories from fifty stellar authors such as Amy Bloom, Roddy Doyle, Don Paterson and Alan Warner. Now, a printed book of the stories has been produced in an exciting partnership with Glasgow-based publisher Cargo and San Francisco-based McSweeney’s. Join us for the…

Elsewhere on the web


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