In 1936, his first important novel, Luotuo Xiangzi (駱駝祥子, Camel Xiangzi), was published. It is considered to be a classic in the history of present Chinese literature. During World War II, he also made special contributions as a leader of anti-Japanese writers in China. He became the vice chairman of the union of writers after 1949. However, like thousands of other intellectuals in China, he was cruelly treated in the Cultural Revolution. Greatly humiliated both mentally and physically, he killed himeself in 1966. His death is quite sad, as he could probably have been the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in 1968.
His other important works include Si Shi Tong Tang (四世同堂, "Four Generations under One Roof", a novel describing the life of the Chinese during the Japanese occupation); Cha Guan (茶館, Teahouse, a play written in 1957) and Lao Zhang de Zhexue (老張的哲學, The Philosophy of Old Zhang, his first publicized novel, written in London).