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Acclaimed Chinese-born writer tackles feminism and sex

From Chinese slums to London's literary circles, Hong Ying's themes remain universal

"Why shouldn't a Chinese female author write about the British elite, including their sexual habits?" says Chinese-born novelist Hong Ying. "A writer is a writer, and there should be no distinction between genders.” (Courtesy of Hong Ying)

I first met the Chinese writer Hong Ying many years ago in a fashionable bookstore in London's upmarket Chelsea district. She was surrounded by literary stars and critics, looking a little tense, yet somehow pensive, elegant, patient. A blend of curiosity and bewilderment creased her face while, just beneath, there was an expression best described as a hard-as-nails vigilance.

The gathering was during the bubbling optimism of the late 1990s; the Cold War was over, and the world was opening up. Hong Ying was launching "Daughter of the River," her first autobiographical account of her childhood in a crime riddled Yangtse River slum, about as far removed from the Chelsea chattering classes as you could get.

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