Yiyun Li spoke during the 2013 Aspen Summer Words Festival celebrating the literary riches of China. 

Watch Yiyun Li, Lisa See, and Deborah Fallows in conversation

The novel is fundamentally a Western form that values originality, authenticity and individuality. Eastern narrative, by contrast, places greater emphasis on morality, cultural continuity and the recurrent. How do these divergent literary principals shape the way authors understand themselves and their work?

Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996. Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, and O Henry Prize Stories. Li’s debut collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction; it was also shortlisted for the Kiriyama Prize and Orange Prize for New Writers. Her novel, The Vagrants, won the California Book Award Gold Medal for fiction. Selected by Granta magazine as one of the 21 Best Young American Novelists Under 35, Li was also named by The New Yorker as one of the Top 20 Writers Under 40. In 2010, the MacArthur Foundation named her a fellow, and she has received fellowships and awards from Lannan Foundation and Whiting Foundation as well. Li is a contributing editor to the Brooklyn-based literary magazine, A Public Space. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and their two sons and teaches at University of California, Davis.