During the Cultural Revolution countless unspeakable acts went down in the otherwise unremarkable industrial town of Muddy River. Lovers betrayed lovers, children denounced their parents, and neighbors became sworn enemies. A few years later, the townspeople have convened at the public stadium to witness the execution of Gu Shan. A Red Guard leader in her youth, she has received the death penalty for her counterrevolutionary writings and unrepentant attitude. In Yiyun Li's startling debut novel, The Vagrants, we are introduced to Gu's parents, neighbors, and a handful of Muddy River's social outcasts whose lives have been irrevocably affected by her life and death. Yiyun Li's unblinking and unpredictable fictional narrative demonstrates how corruption and cruelty, fear, and moral ambiguity at the level of the individual reflect the dehumanization of an entire society. The Vagrants establishes Li as an important new voice in American fiction.