Eileen Chang was born into a large, traditional and distinguished Shanghai family in 1920 and died in Los Angeles in 1995. Since her death, her life and literary work have gained significant public attention. She was a keen observer of the details of Chinese urban life, unique in the honesty with which she recorded her reactions to life around her. Her main themes were the relationships between men and women. In these two short stories chosen for this evening's discussions, we read tales of romance in "fallen" cities, namely Shanghai and Hongkong.
In the early 1940s, Chang was one of the most celebrated writers in Shanghai. Her writings were nearly forgotten in Mainland China until the 1980s; however, they have always been much appreciated in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where many creative writers have been influenced by her. C.T. Hsia claims in his authoritative book on modern Chinese fiction, written in 1961, that she was "the best and most important writer in Chinese today". In recent years, thanks to the success of Ang Lee's film Lust, Caution (2007), Eileen Chang has received international fame.