Li’s debut short story collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, The Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. Her novel, The Vagrants, won the gold medal of California Book Award for fiction, and was shortlisted for International Dublin Literary Award. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, her second collection, was a finalist of Story Prize and shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Kinder Than Solitude, her latest novel, was published to critical acclaim. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Her most recent book is a memoir, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, published in February 2017. She is also the recipient of The Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award, Benjamin H. Danks Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She was named by The New Yorker as one of the “20 under 40” fiction writers to watch. Her work also has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, Granta, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among others.
Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996 to pursue a science career in immunology before she became a writer. She earned a B.S. from Peking University in Beijing in 1996 and earned her M.S. and an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction writing from Iowa University in 2000 and 2005, respectively. She most recently taught fiction at the University of California, Davis, where she received the 2011 Chancellor’s Fellowship, one of the highest and most prestigious faculty honors at the University.