J.G. BALLARD Biography - Writers


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J. G. Ballard, born in 1930, British novelist, short-story writer, and       
essayist. Ballard’s writing is heavily influenced by science fiction and   
fantasy, and it explores contemporary concerns about impending               
environmental catastrophe and the effect on human nature of the ascendancy   
of technological processes. Perhaps more than any other modern novelist,     
he has brought other genres into play in the literary novel.                 
James Graham Ballard was born to a British family living in Shanghai,       
China. He spent part of his childhood interned with his family in a         
Japanese prison camp after Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor during     
World War II. Japan had seized Shanghai in 1937 and occupied the city       
until the end of the war. These wartime experiences inform much of           
Ballard’s writing, most notably his semi-autobiographical novel Empire of 
the Sun (1984). Ballard’s family returned to Britain in 1946. Ballard     
subsequently spent two years, from 1949 to 1951, at the University of       
Cambridge studying medicine. After leaving Cambridge he worked at various   
jobs before joining Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF). After his discharge   
from the RAF in 1957, he worked on a scientific journal for six years       
before becoming a full-time writer.                                         
Ballard’s first novel, The Drowned World (1962), imagined the devastation 
caused by melting polar ice caps. It was followed by two more novels that   
imagined environmental catastrophes: The Wind from Nowhere (1962) and The   
Drought (1965). The Crystal World (1966) is set in a forest area in         
western Africa that, along with its inhabitants, is turning into crystals.   
In 1973 Ballard published Crash, a disturbing and explicit meditation on     
the relationship between sexual desire and automobile crashes. The book     
was filmed by Canadian director David Cronenberg in 1996; the movie Crash   
provoked fierce debates over censorship and obscenity. Crash was followed   
by four more fantasy novels about contemporary civilization: Concrete       
Island (1974), High-Rise (1975), The Unlimited Dream Company (1979), and     
Hello America (1981).