On his return to Shanghai in 1928, Ba Jin continued writing and working on translations. His first novel, Destruction, was released serially by Fiction Monthly in 1929, a foremost literary magazine, and earned him many admirers.
During the next 10 years, Li acted as editor to several important
publishing firms and periodicals, as well as composing the works which he is best known for – The Family (1931), The Love Trilogy Fog (1931), Rain (1933) and Lightning (1935), the novellas Autumn in Spring and A Dream of the Sea, the short story collection Mengya (“Germination”) and prose writings in Fuchou ("Vengeance") and Shen, Gui, Ren ("Gods, Ghosts and Men").
the Second Sino-Japanese War, Ba Jin was actively involved in propaganda work against the Japanese invasion, working on the publication Nahan (“Outcries”, later renamed Fenghuo, “Beacons”) with Mao Dun. In the later stages of the war, Ba Jin completed the famous Torrents Trilogy — of whichThe
Family (1931) was the first written — with Spring (1938) and Autumn (1940).
Other works of the post-war period, like the short novels A Garden of Repose (1944), Ward Four (1946) and Cold Nights(1947), contain some of his strongest writings. He ceased fiction writing after the establishment of the People's Republic of China, choosing to concentrate on nonfiction instead.
During the Cultural Revolution, Ba Jin was heavily persecuted as a counter-revolutionary. His wife, Xiao Shan, died during the Revolution after being denied medical care, and the manner of her death traumatized Ba Jin for the rest of his life. He
was rehabilitated in 1977, after which he was elected to many important national literary posts, including chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association (since 1983). The most significant work of his later years is probably the discursive writings in Suixiang Lu(tra nslated as "Random Thoughts", five volumes, composed between 1978 and 1986), in which, among other things, he reflected on the Cultural Revolution in a painfully honest
manner and asked specifically for a Cultural Revolution Museum to be set up as a deterrent for future generations.
He spoke and advocated Esperanto and in the 1980s was the vice-president of the Chinese Esperanto League.
Ba Jin's works were heavily influenced by foreign writers, including Émile Zola, Ivan
Herzen, Anton Chekhov, and Emma Goldman,and a substantial amount of his collected works are devoted to translations. His writing style, characterized
by simplicity, avoids difficult, abstruse words, and making him one of the most popular of all modern Chinese writers.
Ba Jin suffered from Parkinson's Disease beginning in 1983, and the ailment almost completely debilitated him in his later years. The illness confined him to a hospital unable to speak and walk during the last few years of his life. Ba Jin died of cancer in Shanghai at the age of 100 (101 by Chinese reckoning) in 2005. His death marked the end of an era for Chinese literature, especially since he was the last major writer to live through the May Fourth Movement. He received the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 1990.
Asteroid 8315 Bajin is
named in his honour.