he Chinese-speaking world is mourning the passing of one of its most popular and beloved writers, Jin Yong, the master of the martial arts novel.
Born in 1924 in China’s Zhejiang province to a family with a lineage of scholars dating back centuries, the author, whose real name is Louis Cha, moved to Hong Kong in 1948, working as an editor and reporter there before discovering his true calling.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Cha published newspaper serializations of epic martial arts stories featuring swashbuckling heroes, strong heroines, and cunning villains. Generations of Chinese kids have now been raised on these stories with many of his novels being adapted into popular TV dramas, films, and games. His works have sold well over 100 million copies.
Sometimes called “China’s Tolkien,” Cha’s works and colossal impact are relatively unknown in the West, partially due to the difficulty in translating his stories with the first volume of his iconic Legends Of The Condor Heroes only being translated into English this year. In a New Yorker profile from this April, Cha’s “cultural currency” in the Chinese-speaking world is described as being “roughly equal to that of Harry Potter and Star Wars combined.”
On Chinese social media tonight, millions of fans have been bidding farewell to Cha, remembering their favorite of his characters and how his stories helped to open up their eyes and imaginations like never before.
Everyone, I mean everyone, on my WeChat timeline has something to say about Jin Yong. We all read and reread his novels in our teens, 20s, 30s until today. His novels took us to a magical place that justice always prevails. Wuxia=martial arts+chivalry https://t.co/gTY9pjkAVh
— Li Yuan (@LiYuan6) October 30, 2018
“I am very saddened to hear the sad news of Mr Louis Cha passing away. His book The Deer and The Cauldron gave me a lot of joy. I read it just a few months back. I wish I could have met him. He has given so much joy to so many generations. I am his big fan.”
According to Hong Kong media, Cha passed away at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital following a long period of illness. He was 94. His tales will outlive us all.