Writer Eileen Chang's Influence Persists Around the Globe

For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we celebrate the immense impact Eileen Chang (Ailing Zhang) has had on American and Chinese literature. Chang (1920-1995) was born in Shanghai, studied literature at the University of Hong Kong, and became a popular novelist and short story writer. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1955, she had two residencies at MacDowell and met her future husband, screenwriter Ferdinand Reyher, while both were in residence in 1956.

Two novels, both commissioned in the 1950s by the United States Information Service as anti-Communist propaganda, The Rice Sprout Song and Naked Earth, the latter available as an New York Review of Books Classic, were followed by a third, The Rouge of the North, in 1967.

In 2006, NYRB Classics published Love in a Fallen City, an original collection of her short fiction. The following year, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee’s adaptation of Chang’s 1979 novella, Lust, Caution, was released.

The University of Southern California Library’s Ailing Zhang (Eileen Chang) Papers is a collection of nearly 200 items related Chang and her work and is accessible through the university’s Digital Library.

Her obituary in The New York Times offers a glimpse into the complex, reclusive, and politically divisive individual that was Eileen Chang.

Portrait of Zhang Ailing. She is standing with her hands on her hips and looking into the camera