The Book of Goose: A Novel (Hardcover)
Agnès is at work on a book, a project motivated by the recent death of her childhood friend, Fabienne. “Nothing is more inexplicable than friendship in childhood,” Agnès asserts.Much of this novel, written in the first person, depicts Agnès reflecting upon the actions of her younger self and those of her friend. Li, however, does not expect readers to accept these reflections without criticism, instead questioning the ability of one person to tell an objective story of a complicated life. In doing so, we learn something about the stories we tell each other and ourselves as well as the ways such stories can be interpreted. -Graham— From Fall Booknotes 2022
A magnificent, beguiling tale winding from the postwar rural provinces to Paris, from an English boarding school, to the quiet Pennsylvania home where a woman can live without her past, The Book of Goose is a story of disturbing intimacy and obsession, of exploitation and strength of will, by the celebrated author Yiyun Li.
Fabienne is dead. Her childhood best friend, Agnès, receives the news in America, far from the French countryside where the two girls were raised—the place that Fabienne helped Agnès escape ten years ago. Now, Agnès is free to tell her story.
As children in a war-ravaged, backwater town, they’d built a private world, invisible to everyone but themselves—until Fabienne hatched the plan that would change everything, launching Agnès on an epic trajectory through fame, fortune, and terrible loss.
About the Author
Yiyun Li is the author of six works of fiction—Must I Go, Where Reasons End, Kinder Than Solitude, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, The Vagrants, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl—and the memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. She is the recipient of many awards, including the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Windham-Campbell Prize. Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. She teaches at Princeton University.
“Li’s books render the world so sharply that they might draw blood, but they are also shot through, I think, with an extraordinary hopefulness . . . they possess a fullness, a deep love of both language and character.”
—Lynn Steger Strong, The Los Angeles Times
“A compulsively readable meditation on how our closest friendships harbor both love and hate—and how we can fail each other over and over again . . . Li’s crystalline, insightful prose adds incredible depth to the drama, yet the dynamic between the girls remains the complex heart of The Book of Goose.”
—Sarah Rose Etter, BOMB
“A subtly suspenseful and inventive novel of friendship, opportunism, fame, fantasy, success and survival.”
—BookBrowse (five-star review)
“Not since John Knowles' A Separate Peace has a novel wrung such drama from two teens standing face to face on a tree branch.”
—Kevin Canfield, Star Tribune
“Haunting . . . The Book of Goose is a fascinating period piece . . . focused on the prickly relationship between [Li’s] two central characters . . . The Book of Goose itself is a spiky, scratchy, unsettling thing; and it’s all the more interesting and impressive for it.”
—Lucy Scholes, Financial Times
"Li, of course, has never been the kind of writer who tells you what you want to hear, and this is surely part of why she has become, while still in her 40s, one of our finest living authors: Her elegant metaphysics never elide the blood and maggots."
—Megan O’Grady, The New York Times
“Li narrates from the fringes of her own experience, subverting the notion that a writer should be bounded by her own identity, that identity is both personal property and territory to be defended. She insists on her own uncategorizable perspective, breaking rules in a sly, stubborn way."
—Alexandra Kleeman, The New York Times Magazine
“Li has proven herself a master storyteller.”
—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire (Best Books of Fall)
“Come for the writerly scheming, stay for the exquisitely calibrated examination of how our most tender and important bonds involve the manipulation of power and devotion.”
—Bethanne Patrick, The Los Angeles Times (most anticipated)
Yiyun Li’s extraordinary new novel is a multivalent exploration of friendship and love, experience and exploitation, fate and futility, the slippage between reality and artifice . . . brilliant.”
—Carolyn Oliver, On the Seawall
“Exquisite . . . Knives, minerals, oranges, and the game of Rock Paper Scissors sneak into Agnès’ narrative as she relates the trajectory of a once-unbreakable union. The relative hardness of those substances is a clue to understanding it all. Stunners: Li’s memorable duo, their lives, their losses.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Not since Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend has a novel so deftly probed the magical and sometimes destructive friendships that can occur between two girls . . . The Book of Goose is an elegant and disturbing novel about exploitation and acquiescence, notoriety and obscurity, and whether you choose your life or are chosen by it.”
—Lauren Bufford, BookPage (starred review)
“Bringing to mind Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, by way of Anita Brookner’s quietly dramatic prose, [The Book of Goose] makes for a powerful Cinderella fable with memorable characters. It’s an accomplished new turn for Li.”