Chinese communities around the world were plunged into mourning on October 30 as news broke of the passing of the best-selling Chinese-language author Louis Cha at the age of 94. Better known by his pen name Jin Yong, Cha sold more than 100 million copies of his “wuxia” martial arts novels, which he began publishing in the 1950s. Many of his hugely popular stories have been turned into hit movies and TV shows over the years.
Born in Haining, Zhejiang Province, China, Cha moved to Hong Kong in 1948 and worked as a journalist and translator. In 1955, his first wuxia novel, The Book and the Sword, was published in serial form under the name Jin Yong. In the following years, Cha’s stories regularly appeared in the newspaper he worked for. Besides penning his exciting adventures, Cha also found time to launch the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao in 1959. He continued to write martial arts novels and stories until his fifteenth and last one, The Deer and the Cauldron, came out in 1972.
Cha also worked as a screenwriter, helping bring his literary creations to life on TV and in theaters. His stories combine fantastical martial arts action with romance and emotional dilemmas. They cover complex themes while providing exciting acrobatics and swordplay to keep audiences interested. Some of them are based on real historical events, making them educatinal as well as entertaining. No other modern Chinese author has been so widely read or wielded such cultural infuence, and Cha’s novels has been translated into several laguages. Besides films and TV, his works have been adapted into comics and video games. Though Jin Yong himeself has gone, his name will live on, even in the heavens, where he has had an asteroid (10930 Jinyong) named after him.