Cheng Naishan, a mainland Chinese author and writer known for her work about life in Shanghai, died recently of leukemia.
The Blue House, a novel that is also available in English, French and Spanish, is about the world of romance, business and family life in Shanghai during and after The Cultural Revolution.
Her work is known for the history, culture and legacy of Shanghai in the 1930s before World War II when the city was known as the “Paris of the Orient”.
Cheng was born in 1947 into a family of bankers. The family moved to Hong Kong in 1949, and returned to Shanghai—out of patriotism—in 1956. Her first story was published in a literary magazine in 1979 launching a literary career in China that spanned more than three decades.
“I know some people say I always write about the old Shanghai and try to keep the flavor of old Shanghai and that makes my writing look less modern,” she said in a 2012 interview with an official publication run by the government-backed Shanghai Federation of Literary and Art Circles. “I am not concerned about what those people say about me because in my heart the old Shanghai is just an endless story and I won’t stop writing about it.”
The editor of the Shanghai Dialect column for Xinmin Evening News, Lyu Zheng said, “She can write adeptly about the lower-class life experience of dumping the chamber pot, as well as upper-class social life between coffee cups.”
Her husband, Yan Erchun, said, “Naishan has great love for the city of Shanghai, especially the district of Jing’an. She was born and raised here. There are endless stories she wanted to write about Shanghai.”
Cheng was diagnosed with leukemia in the winter of 2011, and she continued writing until near the end.
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