Name at birth: James Graham Ballard
J.G. Ballard used his own childhood in a Japanese prison camp as the basis for his 1984 novel Empire of the Sun. As a young man he settled in Shepperton, England and, after studying medicine, began a career as a writer. Though Empire of the Sun is a fairly mainstream story, Ballard's other books are not easily classified; some call them science fiction, others simply creepy or disturbing. They generally combine sex, surgery and technology as part of a psychoanalytical depiction of the modern human condition. Ballard also wrote Crash (1973), which was made into a 1996 movie starring Holly Hunter and James Spader. (Empire of the Sun had already been made into a movie in 1987, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring a young Christian Bale as the Ballard-like boy, Jim.) Ballard's other books include The Crystal World (1966), High-rise (1975), The Day of Creation (1987) and Cocaine Nights (1996). He published an autobiography, Miracles of Life, in 2008; Ballard told The Times of London that he wrote the book after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2006. He died of the cancer in 2009.
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