Giant of Literature J.G. Ballard Passes Away at the Age of 78

(The cover art for The Collected Stories of J.G. Ballard)

J.G. Ballard (November 15, 1930 to April 19, 2009) rewired the brains of generations of readers and writers. A member of the largely British New Wave movement of the 1960s, Ballard wrote mind-bending stories that changed reader perceptions of space and time, along with novels that dealt with every conceivable major theme of the twentieth century. His fictionalized memoir of his childhood, Empire of the Sun (1984), was made into a movie that brought him more readers than ever before. Ballard’s devastating satires of American politics, in particular his notorious jab at Ronald Reagan, went right to the edge of fictional possibility. But controversy and pushing boundaries were never problems for Ballard, as books like Crash, with its examination of literal auto-eroticism, proved. Such books also proved the lasting value of both literature and experimentation, being irreproducible in other media.

Another giant of post-World War II literature, Michael Moorcock, told Amazon, “Ballard and I, together with the late Barry Bayley, 'plotted' what became the New Wave revolution in the late 50s and early 60s. A regular and frequent contributor to New Worlds, he was a hugely inspiring and generous friend, if a little reclusive. Raised his three children single-handed after his wife died suddenly in Spain while on holiday and wrote a moving, exceptionally warm memoir, Miracles of Life, which was published in 2007, when he knew he was dying. His influence on a generation of writers in all fields, including Martin Amis and Will Self, was enormous and he remains perhaps the finest imaginative writer of his generation. He refused a CBE from the Queen in protest at the United Kingdom’s involvement in Iraq, and because he thought the title of Commander of the British Empire a ludicrous title for a modern Briton. He leaves a partner, Claire Walsh, who was his companion for over forty years and nursed him through his long illness.”

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