In 2007, the film Lust, Caution by Taiwanese director Ang Lee won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. Regarded highly by critics, the film was based on a short story by the Chinese writer Eileen Chang, who despite being one of modern China's most celebrated literary figures, was at the time relatively unknown in the West.
Born in 1920 to an important family in Shanghai, Chang had a difficult early life that influenced much of her writing. Born into a wealthy family, Chang was bullied terribly by her drug-using father, who even locked her in a room for nearly half a year when she became sick. In 1939, she went to study at the University of Hong Kong and began to gain success as a writer. The Japanese attack on the city in 1941, however, forced her to return to Shanghai, where she married and later divorced after discovering her husband was having a love affair with a young nurse. In 1952, due to the difficult political situation in China, she fled once again to Hong Kong and three years later moved to the United States, where she lived until her death in 1995. During her life, she published over 60 novels, short stories, and movie scripts, mostly in her native Chinese.
Unlike many Chinese writers of the time whose works were heavily influenced by politics, Chang's work focused more on the intense emotional experiences of her characters. These were often ordinary women dealing with family quarrels, hateful parents, and cheating husbands. Her elegant writing showed an understanding of human psychology that no other Chinese writer of the period could match.
Following the success of Ang Lee's film, many of Chang's works were translated into English for the first time. A whole new generation of readers were introduced to Chang's amazing stories and her work finally gained the global fame that it deserved.