Anchee Min About the Participants
January 13-16, 2000

ANCHEE MIN was born in Shanghai, during the rule of communist leader Mao Zedong and lived in China for 27 years, from 1957 to 1984. During the Cultural Revolution, she was chosen to become a leader of the Little Red Guards, a group of elementary school children who supported and believed in Mao's ideas. Later, she was chosen to play the starring role in Red Azalea, one of Madame Mao's movies. In 1983, Min fled to the United States after the death of Chairman Mao, the execution of Madame Mao, and the ensuing political turmoil; at that time she did not speak English. From 1984 to 1990, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving her M.F.A. and B.F.A. In 1984, Red Azalea, Min's memoir of a young Chinese girl during the collapse of the Maoist regime, was selected as The New York Times Notable Book of the Year and in 1985, the Carl Sandberg Literary Award. In Red Azalea, Anchee Min re-creates her life during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. She writes of a time when professionals, intellectuals, and capitalists were considered enemies of Mao's teachings; a time when education was replaced by Mao indoctrination; a time when one's survival was dependent upon correct political behavior. Min perseveres to conform to Communist ideologies even when they conflict with her personal convictions.. Her first novel, Katherine, was published in 1994. Like "Red Azalea", Katherine is a story about the terrors and horrors of the Cultural Revolution. Ironically, when Anchee Min toured China promoting Red Azalea, the government used her as an example of what Chinese women could accomplish

Min now lives in California with her 8 year old daughter, Lauryann Jiang. In addition to being a writer, she is also a painter, photographer, and a musician. Becoming Madam Mao, her historical novel, is to be published in Spring, 2000 by Houghton/Mifflin. Min is currently at work on a third novel, Wild Ginger, the story of a Mao loyalist.

  • Red Azalea (a memoir), 1992
  • Katherine (a novel), 1993
  • Becoming Madam Mao (a historical novel), forthcoming (Houghton/Mifflin Co.)