[E]very time I spoke to my grandmother, she’d issue the same decree. Her voice now represented all of the voices questioning my right to depict China at all, preempting my every sentence, shrouding me in so much self-doubt that, many days, I censored myself. I couldn’t write a word.
In order to write, I needed to tune her out. I needed to remind myself that it’s the duty of novelists to write past polemics, to show complexity and humanity everywhere we look. That the crucial voices were those of my characters[.]