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The Vagrants

Written by: Yiyun Li
Narrated by: Jackie Chung
Length: 11 hrs and 25 mins

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Publisher's Summary

Yiyun Li is the winner of the prestigious Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. The Vagrants, set in 1979 China, is the story of those affected by the execution of a 28-year-old counterrevolutionary. Though suffering, Li's characters nevertheless struggle to maintain hope amid cruel circumstance.

©2009 Yiyun Li (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

What the critics say

“Extraordinary . . . beautifully paced, exquisitely detailed . . . In this most amazing first novel, Yiyun Li has found a way to combine the jeweled precision of her short-story-writer’s gaze with a spellbinding vision of the power of the human spirit.” ( Chicago Tribune)
“Powerful and thoughtful . . . a revelation.” ( The Washington Post)
The Vagrants is pure pleasure and a must-read.” ( San Francisco Magazine)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Athene
  • 2013-05-10

Lovely prose, good story, deadly narration

What made the experience of listening to The Vagrants the most enjoyable?

The writing is poetic and the images vivid. Characters are interesting and thoughtfully, carefully, gradually revealed. It is a grim story and a grim setting. Very interesting experience of "small city" 1970's China and some of its citizens.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jackie Chung’s performances?

I would not listen to another audiobook narrated by Jackie Chung, however. Her reading is flat--even compared to my own mind's!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan Brady, LCSW
  • 2018-05-13


Yiyun Li has written a beautiful book. Through the lives of individuals in a small sad town in China we see how people suffer thru these terrible political times. I don’t usually like politics in my fiction, but there is no escaping how the political climate has destroyed so many people’s lives. She illustrates this perfectly.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Buzz
  • 2011-05-10

Grim but Revealing Novel of China. Very Good.

Yiyun Li is a natural story-teller. Her prose is simple and direct and therein lies its power. The Vagrants is set in the fictional small Chinese town of Muddy River in 1979, right after the end of the brutal Cultural Revolution. It follows the lives of a host of characters from the power elite, down to the poorest vagrants. Their lives are intertwined by geographical identity and the overwhelming impact that Mao’s Cultural Revolution had on society. The characters are unforgettable. This is a profoundly sad novel, but its illumination of the human condition is revealing. The Vagrants is a very good book, and one that painlessly teaches much about China’s recent history.

1 person found this helpful