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E. Lily Yu Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

On Fragile Waves (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The White-Throated Transmigrant (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Time Invariance of Snow (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Small Monsters (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
The River and the World Remade (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Jewel Box: Stories (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2012(2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Best of Electric Velocipede(2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The New Voices of Fantasy(2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Year\'s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2014(2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 87, December 2013(2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Upgraded(2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Clarkesworld: Year Eight(2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cyber World(2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
People of Color Take over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
If This Goes On(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The New Voices of Science Fiction(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Best of Uncanny(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Some of the Best of Tor.com 2021(2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

E. Lily Yu is an award-winning American author with over a decade in the publishing industry. She began her writing career publishing short fiction stories, and after more than ten years of short story writing, she published her debut novel, On Fragile Waves. Her debut novel has been described as heartbreaking, poetic, masterful, and deeply satisfying.

E. Lily Yu won the Astounding Award 2012 for the best new writer category. Her short fiction story, The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees was selected for the World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award for the Short Story. Some of her short fiction books have been featured in Tor.com, Clarksworld, Uncanny, Apex, and Lightspeed and have also been reprinted in several “best of” anthologies.

On Fragile Wave is the story of an Afghan family that escapes their war-torn country, hoping to seek greener pastures elsewhere. The story is mainly narrated through the eyes of the family’s young daughter Firuzeh. Throughout their journey, she encounters things too tough to understand, some of which her parents desperately shield her from. As the family attempts a dangerous sea crossing, ending up in a refugee camp, how much can they shield their kids from?

Published in 2021, E. Lily Yu’s debut novel On Fragile Waves books offers a self-critique concerning diasporic immigrants. We are introduced to a character the author often refers to as “the writer,” traveling to Australia for an interview with the Afghanistan community’s asylum seekers and those in the detention centers as a part of her research. The writer is offered a tour by Sister Margaret, a tireless advocate for the refugees and the Daizangi family, which is the center stage of the story. The writer spends days interviewing the detention inmates on their conditions.

The moments of happiness encountered by the asylum seekers, comprising of Firuzeh Daizangi, a 10-year-old girl upon her arrival in Australia, her younger sibling Nour, and their parents, Abay and Atay, are frequently overshadowed by the distressing events that occurred during their challenging and thrilling voyage. The Daizangis, who are escaping the conflict-ridden Kabul in Afghanistan, undergo dangerous oceanic storms, cruel handling at a detention facility situated off the shores of Australia, and additional humiliation upon their arrival in Melbourne, where the offspring attend educational institutions and the adults search for employment opportunities. The book portrays softness and intense familial love amid stressful occasions of abuse, catastrophic experiences with nature, and overwhelming sadness.
The author, Yu, effectively focuses on the primary character’s youthfulness throughout the story. During her childhood, Firuzeh exhibited a knack for fantasy imaginings, a steadfast belief in the supernatural, and a yearning for a sense of stability, close friendships, and a home to call her own. The novel resembles other works of literature by artists hailing from refugee communities. The theatrical production entitled “How to Have Fun in a Civil War,” featuring a solo performance by Ifrah Mansour, is set in the context of the Somali Civil War. The protagonist, a youthful Ifrah, engages in everyday childhood activities such as play, imagination, and the pursuit of love. Similarly, to Mansour’s captivating theatrical work, Yu adeptly portrays the playful nature of her vibrant characters, even in moments of misconduct, for experimentation with profanity in English and social frustration.

Additionally, On Fragile Waves is similar to Syrian American artist Essma Imady’s mixed media work. As an artist, Imady has created artistic creation based on the stories of families that left Syria as refugees. Her work, Thicker than Water, was presented in 2018 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and investigated the theme of survival, hope, and parenthood, just like E. Lily Yu’s novel.

The main character is a gloomy and introverted girl. She is aware that the events in her young life have stolen from her the energy she had back in Kabul, where she was among the brightest students. As the story progresses, her focus turns inward. She considers her situation at great length and assumes other people’s responsibilities, fully conscious of the pain her parents experience as they confront their struggle and are troubled by the disagreements that emerge among them. She also embodies the anguish of the other refugees they encounter, including a mother mourning for her missing daughter and a boy who devoured glass out of desperation.

Besides the troubles she experiences at the detention camp, Firuzeh can see at least one specific ghost. She talks with her dead friend Nesima, who has returned to the realm of the living. Nesima consoles her after discovering that Firuzeh’s parents are biased toward her brother, and she assists her with her schoolwork. She comforts Firuzeh if she has trouble making friends. Towards the story’s final chapter, she helps herself during a crisis by using her abilities as a spirit to figure out where others are.

Firuzeh’s best friend’s resurrection offers a practical purpose by providing her with a person to share her goals and desires. Firuzeh laments to Nesima about her younger sibling, and Nesima provides insight into the dynamics of her family. Nesima offers her companion both wisdom and witty commentary. She outlines the injustices faced by Firuzeh, expressing thoughts that Firuzeh may never have voiced.

However, the two bonds are not without challenges: the main character sometimes relies on her best friend but also pushes her away from others. She labels Nesima as being similar to a nightmare, swallowing the living story by story. One of the book’s central themes (accounts that are a bond that holds Firuzeh and her family together) is brought full circle in the novel’s climactic conflict.

The stories give kids meaning and help them develop a sense of self in the world. As the story unfolds, the stories also serve as an anchor that unites them to the complex family bonds and new connections they make along the way. In the boat, the refugee camp, and eventually at school in Melbourne, Firuzeh and her brother go from asking for stories to detailing their own and ultimately creating their own stories. However, these stories are frequently shattered by recurring nightmares, trauma, tragedies, and conflict. Firuzeh and her sibling are left with nothing but fragments from which to reconstruct their future.

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