Wrote 'Empire of the Sun,' 'Crash'

Writer J.G. Ballard, best known for the autobiographical novel “Empire Of The Sun,” which drew on his childhood detention in a Japanese prison camp in China, died Sunday, his agent said. He was 78.

Ballard was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006. He had been ill “for several years,” his agent Margaret Hanbury said in a statement announcing his death on Sunday, but she did not give the cause of death. It was not immediately clear where he died.

“His acute and visionary observation of contemporary life was distilled into a number of brilliant, powerful novels which have been published all over the world and saw Ballard gain cult status,” Hanbury said.

Ballard was born in Shanghai, China, and was interned there in a prison camp by Japanese troops in 1941 — an experience he drew on in the 1984 novel “Empire of The Sun,” later adapted as a film by U.S. director Steven Spielberg.

His other novels and short story collections, which often took a dark, dystopian science fiction view, included “Cocaine Nights,” “Vermilion Sands” and “Memories of the Space Age.”

The writer moved to Britain in 1946, where he lived until his death.

Ballard was sometimes controversial. His 1973 novel “Crash,” which explored contentious themes about people who derive pleasure from car accidents, was adapted into film by David Cronenberg in 1996.

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