Lilia Liska has shrewdly outlived three husbands, raised five children, and seen the arrival of seventeen grandchildren. Now she has turned her keen attention to the diary of a long-forgotten man named Roland Bouley, with whom she once had a fleeting affair.
Increasingly obsessed with Roland's intimate history, Lilia begins to annotate the diary with her own rather different version of events, revealing the surprising, long-held secrets of her past. She returns inexorably to the memory of her daughter Lucy. This is a novel about life in all its messy glory, and of a life lived, by the extraordinary Lilia, absolutely on its own terms. With great candor and insight, Yiyun Li navigates the twin poles of grief and resilience, loss and rebirth, that compass a human heart.
"This brilliant novel examines lives lived, losses accumulated, and the slipperiness of perception. Yiyun Li writes deeply, drolly, and with elegance about history, even as it's happening. She is one of my favorite writers, and Must I Go is an extraordinary book."--Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Female Persuasion and The Interestings
"There is no writer like Yiyun Li, no one in contemporary literature who is as masterful at digging into the uncertainty of our existence on this earth. And Must I Go is sheer brilliance. Lilia Liska is one of the most arresting, strangely funny, and complex characters I've ever met. In constructing a narrative that allows us to look into the past in order to reckon with what comes next, Li does something truly transformative. She remakes our world for us, so we can figure out how to keep living in it."--Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here and The Family Fang
"Any new book by Yiyun Li is cause for celebration, but now more than ever do we need the clarity and humaneness of her vision. Must I Go takes us into her familiar and powerful emotional territory, brilliantly exploring how what we love, what we lose, and what we mourn make, unmake, and remake us into the human beings that we are."--Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend
"A portrait of resilience like no other, Must I Go takes Yiyun Li--and the reader--into entirely new emotional territory. Bracing and almost unnervingly perceptive, this is wisdom literature for our time."--Gish Jen, author of The Girl at the Baggage Claim
"Fierce and intransigent, startling in the frankness with which she rebuffs conventional expectations of maternal docility and 'niceness, ' the protagonist of Yiyun Li's fascinating new novel is both an eighty-one-year-old grandmother mourning, after thirty-seven years, the death by suicide of her firstborn child and a woman obsessed with the private life of a former lover, the father of the deceased daughter, whose diary she is reading and annotating at length. Lilia Liska is a memorable creation--'as hard as the hardest life'--whose sharp judgments and shrewd, if harsh, insights into life ring with the painful candor of truth. As Lilia bravely declares: 'Happy people have no use for words.'"--Joyce Carol Oates, bestselling author of We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde