About the world

I imagine autobiographical writers are writers who write about their own lives and their life stories. There’s a difference to me between your life and your memories. Of course I have memories about my own life, my own family, but a lot of memories I carry with me are about the world. And those are not—I don’t think those can be called—autobiographical. Those are really observations. I remember these things, but you have to make sense of these memories by writing other people’s stories, rather than your own stories.

My inclination was not to write nonfiction, but what I got from nonfiction was that I can write nonfiction. Because I hate to write about myself and talk about myself, but I realized there are ways to write nonfiction that’s really not about yourself, but about the world. That makes me very happy.

Yiyun Li