Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel

Editorial reviews

Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel

I imagine most people’s reaction to the book will be dictated by their tolerance for her semi-aphoristic authorial proclamations and the mannered faux-philosophical dialogue, both of which confused and confounded this reader.

Li possesses a supreme ability to depict subtle cultural interactions, and many of the novel’s best moments depict the fascinating collision between America and China, between the restless immigrant and those more settled.

There's a fine, taut Beijing novel inside Kinder Than Solitude, and some ruthless editing of its tedious American material might have set it off to greater advantage.

The aggregate is a carefully assembled, sharply observed world filled with achingly real characters. Rarely are ordinary humans given such eloquent witness.

A murder mystery, properly executed, is a wonderful thing, and Li shows great dexterity at delaying the explanation of Shaoai’s murder till the last possible moment.

Kinder Than Solitude is a grim novel, but it’s a mesmerizing experience for fans of elegant writing.

Relentlessly dreary from beginning to end, Kinder than Solitude presents the world as a dusty repository of heartless, futile hostility. This brittle despair might be right up my alley, but the author, Yiyun Li, offers ornate craft in place of meaning.

Whatever her intent, Yiyun Li captures the essence of solitude, building great moats of emptiness around her characters that no one, not even the reader, can breach.

Where the author's previous fiction cohered into more strongly realized works, a similar slackness undermines this novel.