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April 23, 2013

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Shanghainese author of 'Blue House' dies at 67

WRITER Cheng Naishan, known for capturing the life and spirit of Shanghai, died yesterday morning at the city's Huashan Hospital.

Cheng, 67, died of a severe relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"In her books about old Shanghai, She has reconstructed the city's dignity, elegance and warmth," said Wang Zhousheng, literature researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Cheng, who was born in Shanghai and grew up in Hong Kong, moved back to the city in 1950s. The granddaughter of a banker in 1930s Shanghai, Cheng was always interested in capturing and comparing the city's past and present.

Her best-known and debut novel, "The Blue House," published in 1983, depicts how the grandson of the owner of the blue house, one of the most luxurious mansions in Shanghai in 1930s, explores the family's past wealth and glory as well as the choices and destinies of each family member in 1930s and during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976). "The Blue House" is based on a famous green house in Jing'an District, designed by Ladislav Hudec (1893-1958), and the novel is available in English.

"My love for Shanghai and for Jing'an District is deeply rooted in my blood," Cheng once wrote in a column.

Cheng started writing columns and a series of stories about the city in recent years, including "Shanghai Tango," "Shanghai Lady" and "Shanghai Fashion."

Cheng was reportedly working on a memoir of her family when she died.


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