Hong Kong News

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Sunday, Sep 24, 2023

Mourning 'wonderful' Xi Xi

Hong Kong's renowned writer Cheung Yin, also known by her pen name Xi Xi, passed away at the age 85 due to heart disease yesterday.
Su Yeh Publications, a now-defunct publisher co-founded by Xi Xi, said on its Facebook page that Cheung died peacefully at 8.15am.

"The life of Xi Xi was wonderful, enjoyable and rewarding. We all miss her," it said.

Born in Shanghai in 1937, Cheung moved to Hong Kong with her family in 1950.

She started writing articles in newspapers when she was in secondary school and was later admitted to the Grantham College of Education - the predecessor of the Education University of Hong Kong.

After graduation, she became a teacher at a government primary school.

From 1974 to 1975, she serialized her most famous novel My City: A Hong Kong Story in a newspaper to explore the identity of Hong Kong people.

Another iconic piece of literature, Mourning a Breast, published in 1992, was written after her experience of combating breast cancer.

Cheung won many awards throughout her career. In 1983, she won Taiwanese newspaper United Daily News' novel prize, which made her famous among Taiwanese readers. She also took the Life Achievement Award at the 16th Hong Kong Arts Development Awards in May.

Her works were also listed as among the model essays in the HKDSE Chinese exam.

Cheung's friend, writer Ho Fuk-yan, was with her when the author passed away in hospital.

Ho said Cheung's health condition had deteriorated in recent years and she felt uncomfortable last Friday. She was taken to hospital as doctors believed she was suffering from heart failure.

Cheung was still able to eat at 7pm on Saturday but she passed away in the early hours yesterday, he said.

Ho said Cheung's writing career spanned half a century but the form of her works was constantly changing and innovative.

"She could talk and feel through her characters and could play different roles," he said.

He added that Cheung's works reflected Hong Kong society, and they had a profound influence on the literary sector in the SAR and inspired young writers.

"After she recovered from breast cancer in 1989, her right hand could not move due to lymphatic damage. But she continued to write using her left hand and completed as many literary works," he said.

Ho said Cheung's works are filled with her optimistic spirit.

The Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, said he was saddened over the passing of Xi Xi.

"Cheung Yin had devoted her whole life to the creation of literary works, to the teaching of younger generations, as well as cultivating talents," Yeung said.

"She was one of the important authors in Hong Kong ... Her works were artistic and literary, valued as exemplary. Her passing was a loss to Hong Kong's literary sector, and we will fondly remember her."

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