Yiyun Li’s Path to Writing in Iowa

Yiyun Li’s Path to Writing in Iowa



She planned to become a scientist, and in 1996 came to the United States to study immunology at the University of Iowa. “I passed my qualifications for my Ph.D., and I started to panic,” she recalls. “I was a capable scientist, but not passionate. Not dedicated. Pretty soon, I quit the Ph.D. program. I got my master’s and worked in a hospital doing research.”

Meanwhile, her college sweetheart from Beijing University had joined her in Iowa City and they soon married. She signed up for an eight-week evening writing course. When she submitted her first story, the teacher asked her to stay behind after class and asked if she’d thought of publishing.


Heidi Benson Chronicle Staff. “People on the Edge Intrigue Writer Yiyun Li.” SFGate. Hearst Communications, Inc., 27 Feb. 2009. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.