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.
“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. No sentimental tale of girlhood friendship, instead Li’s novel is deeply in tune with the complex perils and pleasures of a brutal, but sometimes beautiful world.”
—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 . . . The most propulsively entertaining of Li’s novels, The Book of Goose is an existential fable that illuminates the tangle of motives behind our writing of stories."
—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 . . . She specializes in the movements, feints and fragile suspensions of what she sometimes calls ‘life with a lid on’—borrowing a phrase from Bowen—stories capturing the richness and depth of inner life that is not guaranteed an outlet in action, or even outward expression.”
—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.”