Daily Notes on Literature, Pop Culture & Media, and Academia

Yiyun Li: “The Science of Flight”

Posted by litdaily on September 11, 2010

Yiyun Li’s short story “The Science of Flight,” published in the “20 under 40” series in The New Yorker suggests that an immigrant’s life is arranged in stories: stories that are included and those that are left out, stories that are stolen from others’ lives to inscribe the immigrant’s arc of flight:

“Over the years she had become accustomed to who she was in other people’s eyes: she knew she would be considered a loser by her Chinese acquaintances in America, a divorced woman toiling her life away in an animal-care facility, someone who had failed to make it; in her landlord’s and neighbors’ eyes she was the quiet, good-mannered foreigner who paid her rent on time, who every Halloween put out a couple of pumpkins, uncarved but with drawn-on eyes and mouths, and who had no visitors on weekends or holidays, so there was no conflict regarding the guest parking; for her grandmother and her aging customers, who spent their days in the shack for conversation and companionship more than for the care of their thinning hair or balding heads, she was—despite being a baby who should have remained unborn, a child with little merit and an unnerving manner, and a young woman who had no respect for marriage or her own future—a proof, in the end, of the ultimate mercy of life.”



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