Lilian started writing when she was ten years old.
“I wrote fan fiction with my best friend. We used to meet up at playgrounds to brainstorm story ideas. I transitioned into writing original fiction in high school and things pretty much took off from there.”
Lillian started writing her debut whilst taking her MFA programme.
“It started as a short story, but I found the characters so rich and compelling that I wanted to spend more time with them. It took about three years to write the novel and revise it. By the end of my three-year programme, I managed to sell the book.”
The novel was longlisted for the Centre for Fiction’s first novel prize for 2018.
Who is Lilian Li?
Place of Birth: Ann Arbor, Michigan and grew up in the Gaithersburg area of Maryland.
Education: The National Cathedral School. Princeton, English with a certificate in Creative Writing. MFA in Creative Writing.
Home: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Family: A mom, dad, and a younger brother.
The Day Job: “I work at an independent bookstore, and I teach composition and creative writing at the University of Michigan.”
In Another Life. “I really wish I could draw. I’m deeply envious of graphic novelists who are able to combine illustration with writing.”
Favourite Writers: Alice Munro, Elena Ferrante, Virginia Woolf, Karen Joy Fowler, Ruth Ozeki, Zadie Smith
Second Novel: “I’m not currently writing anything new.”
Top Tip: “No one will ever care as much about your work as you do, so you need belief in yourself. You are the only one who can call yourself a writer.”
Web: www.lillianliauthor.com Twitter: @zillianzi
The Debut: Number One Chinese Restaurant: One: €15.99 Kindle: €9.16.
Behind the scenes at the Beijing Duck House in Maryland, the staff, tired from gruelling years of service, work hard to mask their grudges amidst the simmering tension. We get a great insider’s view of the service industry, as the multigenerational characters fight and fall in love.
“I worked at a Chinese restaurant, briefly, the summer before grad school, and combined my experience with my mother’s inspired me to write the novel. She was a waitress when she first immigrated. I hope readers will find the characters as compelling as I do.”
The Verdict: A clever compelling debut with lots of heart.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 16th February, 2019
© Sue Leonard. 2019.