Program News

Yiyun Li Awarded 2010 MacArthur Fellowship

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Congratulations to Workshop alumnus and fiction writer Yiyun Li (MFA 2005), who was awarded 2010 MacArthur Fellowship.

The award citation describes Li 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."

Li is the eighth Workshop alumnus to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship; the most recent alumn to win a MacArthur, prior to this year, was Stuart Dybek, in 2007.

Widely known as the “genius” awards, the MacArthur fellowships are bestowed upon individuals in a variety of fields “who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits."

“It’s an incredible honor, and it is a hugely generous gift from the MacArthur Foundation,” Li said. “I haven’t thought about the details, but their support will mean I have more time to write in the next five years.”

Li, who lives in Oakland, grew up in Beijing and came to the United States to study immunology at the University of Iowa in 1996. After earning her M.S., she enrolled as a graduate student here at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and at the Nonfiction Writing Workshop, earning an M.F.A. from each program in 2005.

Li's short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories. Her novel The Vagrants won the California Book Award gold medal for fiction. She was named to The New Yorker's list of top 20 fiction writers under the age of 40 in June, 2010. Her new collection of stories, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, was published by Random House this month. Li will be reading from Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, at Prairie Lights Bookstore in downtown Iowa City.

For more information:
2010 MacArthur Fellows: Yiyun Li
LA Times: "Yiyun Li named MacArthur "Genius" Fellow
UI Alumni Named MacArthur Fellow
Conversation with Yiyun Li, PBS ArtBeat
Yiyun Li Author Website
20 Under 40 Q&A: Yiyun Li
"The Science of Flight," by Yiyun Li, The New Yorker