Novelists create colourful lives of their characters _ of other people. But how many writers live a more interesting life than their characters, a life that warrants an autobiography?
The Cooked Seed: A Memoir By Anchee Min 361pp, 2013 Bloomsbury 520 baht Available at Asia Books
One of them is Anchee Min, a native of China and disillusioned comrade who became a famous US novelist. In her memoir, Min brings her readers back to the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution in China and later to her pursuit of the American dream. Born in Shanghai in 1957, the writer joined the Red Guards under Mao's Cultural Revolution and subsequently became an actress in Madame Mao's propaganda film production studio. After the fall of Madame Mao, Min was labelled a "cooked seed", meaning someone who is useless, and sent to work in a labour camp. With zero knowledge of English and $500 in her pocket, Min migrated to the US where she led an immigrant life juggling many menial jobs. Teaching herself English by watching Sesame Street, Min soon became a fan of Virginia Woolf and started writing. Many years later, she wrote her first novel in English. Red Azalea was a success and received rave reviews, as did her other books. But there's no need for a Kleenex as Min does not try to stoke your tears; she stoically re-examines her wounds as a hopeless "cooked seed" in China, and the experience of being raped in the US by a fellow Chinese immigrant. The memoir is a remarkable tale of self-reinvention on both individual and ideological levels.
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