The last decades of the nineteenth century were a violent period in China"s history marked by humiliating foreign incursions and domestic rebellion, ultimately ending in the demise of the Ch"ing dynasty. The only constant during this tumultuous time was the power wielded by one person: the resilient, ever-resourceful Tzu Hsi, or Empress Orchid, as readers came to know her in Anchee Min"s critically acclaimed novel covering the first part of this complex woman"s life.
The Last Empress is the story of Orchid"s dramatic transition from a strong-willed, instinctive young woman to a wise and politically savvy leader. Moving from the intimacy of the concubine quarters into the spotlight of the world stage, Orchid must not only face the perilous condition of her empire but also a series of devastating personal losses, as first her son and then her adopted son succumb to early death. Yearning only to step aside, and yet growing constantly into her role, only she-allied with the progressives, but loyal to the conservative Manchu clan of her dynasty-can hold the nation"s rival
Anchee Min offers a powerful revisionist portrait based on extensive research of one of the most important figures in Chinese history. Viciously maligned by the western press of the time as the "Dragon Lady," a manipulative, blood-thirsty woman who held onto power at all costs, the woman Min gives us is a compelling, very human leader who assumed power reluctantly, and who sacrificed all she had to protect those she loved and an empire that was doomed to die.
The Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year (nominee)
To rescue her family from poverty and avoid marrying her slope-shouldered cousin, seventeen-year-old Orchid competes to be one of the Emperor's wives. When she is chosen as a lower-ranking concubine she enters the erotically charged and ritualised Forbidden City. But beneath its immaculate facade lie whispers of murders and ghosts, and the thousands of concubines will stoop to any lengths to bear the Emperor's son. Orchid trains herself in the art of pleasuring a man, bribes her way into the royal bed, and seduces the monarch, drawing the attention of dangerous foes. Little does she know that China will collapse around her, and that she will be its last Empress.
Anchee Min, now a painter, film-maker, photographer and writer, left China for America in 1984. She had been a prize pupil and a model member of Mao Tse-tung's Red Guard. For her dutiful work for the Party, she was awarded a place at the arduous Red Fire Farm, where she experienced – at great personal risk – her sexual and emotional awakening with the female company leader. Selected from 20,000 candidates to be a star of propagandist films, she left behind the farm and her lover, for fame and an exotic affair with one of Madame Mao's leading emissaries. In this autobiography Anchee Min reveals, through a series of relationships, both a little-known China and her own character – independent, enquiring, and anxious to grasp every experience that comes within her reach. It is an erotic autobiography which, through the dialogue and characterizations of a novel, traces her life and relationships through the political and cultural upheavals of the era.
A fictional portrait of Jiang Ching follows her life from her youth as the unwanted daughter of a concubine, to her search for fame as an actress in Shanghai, to her marriage to revolutionary Mao Zedong, to her role in the turbulent Communist rule of China.
At once a coming-of-age tale and a heart-rending love story, Wild Ginger explores the devastating experience of the Cultural Revolution, which defined Anchee Min"s youth. The beautiful, iron-willed Wild Ginger is only in elementary school when she is singled out by the Red Guards for her "foreign-colored eyes." Her classmate Maple is also a target of persecution. The novel chronicles the two girls" maturing in Shanghai in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Chairman Mao ruled absolutely and his followers took up arms in his name. Wild Ginger grows up to become a model Maoist, but her love for a man soon places her in an untenable position – and ultimately in mortal danger. This slim and powerful novel "examines the fragile sensibilities and emotions of an entire generation of Chinese youth" (Washington Post) and brilliantly delineates the psychological and sexual perversion of those times.
From the bestselling author of Red Azalea and Empress Orchid comes the powerful story of the friendship of a lifetime, based on the life of Pearl S. Buck.
In the small southern town of Chin-kiang, in the last days of the nineteenth century, two young girls bump heads and become thick as thieves. Willow is the only child of a destitute family, Pearl the headstrong daughter of zealous Christian missionaries. She will ultimately become the internationally renowned author Pearl S. Buck, but for now she is just a girl embarrassed by her blonde hair and enchanted by her new Chinese friend. The two embark on a friendship that will sustain both of them through one of the most tumultuous periods in Chinese history.
Moving out into the world together, the two enter the intellectual fray of the times, share love interests and survive early marriages gone bad. Their shared upbringing inspires Pearl 's novels, which celebrate the life of the Chinese peasant and will eventually earn her both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize. But when a civil war erupts between the Nationalists and Communists, Pearl is forced to flee the country just ahead of angry mobs. Willow, despite close ties to Mao's inner circle, is punished for loyalty to her 'cultural imperialist" friend. And yet, through love and loss, heartbreak and joy, exile and imprisonment, the two women remain intimately entwined.
In this ambitious new novel, Anchee Min brings to life a courageous and passionate woman who is now hailed in China as a modern heroine. Like nothing before it, Pearl of China tells the story of one of the twentieth century's greatest writers, from the perspective of the people she loved and of the land she called home.