Shan Sa is the pseudonym of Yan Ni , a French author and painter. The Girl Who Played Go was the first of her novels to be published outside of France, and won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens . Her second novel to appear in English translation was Empress . Shan Sa is also a painter with exhibitions in Paris and New York. Shan Sa was born as Yan Ni in Beijing, China to a scholarly family. She adopted the pseudonym Shan Sa from a poem by the Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi. At age 8, she published her first poetry collection, and went on to obtain the first prize in the national poetry contest for children under 12 years, an event that created a public upheaval. After graduating from secondary school in Beijing, she moved to Paris in August 1990 thanks to a grant by the French government. Settling there with her father, a professor at the Sorbonne University, she quickly adopted the French language. In 1994, she finished her studies of philosophy. From 1994 to 1996 she worked as a secretary of painter Balthus.