First published in 1962 as a serial in a Hong Kong evening paper, The Drunkard has been eulogized as the first Sinophone stream-of-consciousness novel and its author the father of Hong Kong literature. Liu's work most famously inspired the celebrated filmmaker Wong Kar-wai's award-winning films In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046 (2004).

The Drunkard tells the story of a dark and dejected writer-flâneur vainly attempting to live up to his ideals and produce serious literature against the backdrop of a vibrant and variegated Hong Kong. The fabric of the narrative is stitched together by various types of writings, including literary reviews, mythic fables, feigned correspondences, ongoing monologues, etc.

The success of Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love has inspired translations of Liu's works into English, French, Japanese, and Italian. Yet despite The Drunkard's importance in the domain of Sinophone literature, it had been previously considered by many to be untranslatable. Charlotte's translation was published in July 2020 by The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press and was distributed in the United States by Columbia University Press.