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Controversial release of late Eileen Chang novel

A NOVEL by the woman who wrote "Lust, Caution" is finally published on China's mainland today in apparent defiance of its writer's dying wishes.

Eileen Chang's "Little Reunion" has been on the best-seller lists in Taiwan and Hong Kong since it was published there in February in traditional Chinese characters.

Today sees the simplified-Chinese version officially launched on the mainland.

Chang, who died in the United States in 1995 at the age of 74, is said to have left instructions in her will that all copies of the manuscript be destroyed.

Change's possessions were inherited by her friend Stephen Soong and his wife Mae Fong Soong in Hong Kong.

Their son, Roland, inherited the possessions after his mother died in 2007. His father died in 1996. He claimed Chang had not forbidden publishing in her will - it was only mentioned in letters to his parents. He also said the letters showed conflicting attitudes about the book.

Chang rose to fame at the age of 23 and almost all her works, finished before she was 35, are short novels of fewer than 50 pages. "Little Reunion" is a 600-page epic.

Most stories deal with tensions between men and women in 1940s Shanghai and Hong Kong. Almost all her novels have been adapted into TV dramas and movies, the most famous being "Lust, Caution," which became an award-winning movie directed by Ang Lee.

"Little Reunion" is considered to be semi-autobiographical.

Its story of a talented young female writer and her affair echoes Chang's relationship with her first husband, writer and intellectual Hu Lancheng.

The two met in 1943 when Hu was still married to his third wife.


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