Hong Ying grew up in the slums of Chongquing on the Yangtze River in China. A bestselling author and poetess, she is best known in the English-speaking world for her novel, Summer of Betrayal, and an autobiography, Daughter of the River. Her collection of short stories, A Lipstick Called Red Pepper, has been translated into ten Western languages and Japanese.
Hong Ying was born in Chongquing in 1962 into a boat sailor's family. She was the sixth child in a family of eight, and she endured great poverty and hunger as a child. She spent her childhood in the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution, which claimed the lives of tens of millions, including several of her relatives. Her mother had to work as a brick laborer to feed the family, while her father was too ill to work. She later discovered that she was in fact the illegitimate daughter of a lover her mother took, while her father was in prison. Growing up in a slum on the bank of the Yangtze River, in a neighborhood veiled in fog and superstition, she was constantly aware of the sacrifices her family made so that she would survive. And as she neared her eighteenth birthday, she became determined to unravel some of the enigmas that had troubled her all her life: a stalker who had shadowed her since childhood, an anomalous record in her father's government file, and an unshakable feeling that she was an outsider in her own family.
At the same time, she began a relationship with a history teacher at her school, who awakened her to the possibility of dissent and to her own emerging womanhood. But, as she learned, the truth cuts both ways. While the professor taught her how to think outside of the borders the government had set, he himself was under political pressure that would prove unbearable. Hong Ying's search for truth led to the discovery of family secret's that changed her life--and her perceptions of her parents, her sister, and herself--tragically and irrevocably. But these same events also set her free to leave home for good and become a writer. She started her freelance writer's career in early 1980s. One of the very few free-lancers at the time, she wrote both fiction and poetry. In late 1980s she studied in Lu Xun Creative Writing Academy and Fudan University. In 1991 she came to England and settled down in London, where she married Henry Zhao.
Hong Ying is known for her writings that demonstrate raw intensity and fearless honesty. She is a controversial Chinese author focusing on the sexuality of women in China, both the positive and negative aspects. A few of her books are:
- Children Of The Flowers (2009)
- Daughter Of The River: An Autobiography (1999)
- Death In Shanghai (2005)
- K: The Art Of Love (2002)
- Peacock Cries (2005)
- The Concubine Of Shanghai (2008)
On August 22nd Adam Williams and Hong Ying were married by the Mayor of Force, Dr Augusto Curti, at a civil ceremony in the town hall of the hill-top Italian village in Le Marche where the couple have a second home. To read more and see some pics click here. Her thoughts on London could be read here.