Li Lanni was born in the province of Guangdong. She grew up on island military outposts and in the remote mountainous regions where her parents were stationed in the army. She attended the Lu Xun Literary Institute in Beijing and Nanjing University and worked for several years as a journalist in Shenzhen. From her experience with her fight against cancer, depression and their subsequent relapses, she consistently examines and explores, in her writings, mental health issues among the Chinese people of today, the difficulties they are confronted with, as well as the problems that stem from an increasingly modernised world. Her writings include novels, essays, film scripts and nonfiction. In 2009, her memoir A Crowded Silence was named an outstanding literary work and was selected to be part of the International Publications of Chinese Classics Project set up by the China News Publication Bureau.