Louis Cha Leung-yung, Ming Pao co-founder and one of Hong Kong’s best-selling novelists, died at the age of 94.
Better known by his pen name Jin Yong, Cha passed away at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital at around 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
His family and friends were at his bedside when he took his last breath, sources said.
Cha was famous for his wuxia fiction, mostly about virtuous kung-fu masters in ancient China. He wrote 15 novels in this genre between 1955 and 1972, including The Condor Trilogy, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龍八部) and The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記), his last.
The Condor Trilogy consists of The Legend of the Condor Heroes (射鵰英雄傳), The Return of the Condor Heroes (神鵰俠侶) and The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (倚天屠龍記).
Cha’s wuxia novels have been adapted into a number of TV and radio dramas, stage performances, films, comics, animations and video games, and some have been translated into several languages.
His novels were regular best-sellers that allowed him to collect royalties reportedly amounting to eight figures in Hong Kong dollars a year. The number of his readers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan alone is estimated to be around 100 million. It is said that former Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was an avid fan.
As such, Chan was widely regarded as the most popular modern Chinese martial arts novelist in Hong Kong. The SAR government conferred on him the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2000.
After learning of Cha’s death, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was in Japan for an official visit on Tuesday, extended her condolences to the writer’s family.
Expressing deep sorrow over the passing, Lam said in a statement that Cha was a “learned man and an acclaimed writer of martial arts novels” whose works “inherited the tradition of Chinese classics with the integration of history and culture” and have been “very popular among Chinese in various parts of the world, contributing significantly to the promotion of Chinese culture”.
Cha was born on March 10, 1924 in Haining in eastern China’s Zhejiang province.
He began reading wuxia stories at the age of eight, The Standard reported.
After migrating to Hong Kong in 1948, Cha published his first wuxia story The Book and the Sword (書劍恩仇錄) as a column in the New Evening Post in 1955.
In 1959, Cha co-founded the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao and served as its editor-in-chief. He sold his stake in the company to businessman Yu Pun-hoi and left its management in 1993.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ming Pao described Cha’s death as a huge loss to the newspaper, the journalism industry and the Chinese literary community.
Cha, who received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Cambridge in 2005, had served in various public capacities, including member of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law Drafting Committee, Hong Kong convenor of the sub-group on the political system and member of the Executive Committee of the Basic Law Consultative Committee.
In March 2017, the Jin Yong Gallery opened in Sha Tin, exhibiting more than 300 personal items including early editions of his wuxia novels, manuscripts, images, and film posters adapted from his works.
In 2002, it was rumored that Cha had been nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature. But he said once what he really wished was for the public to be still reading his works one or two hundred years after his passing.
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