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Becoming Madame Maoby Anchee Min
Synopses & Reviews
From the best-selling author of RED AZALEA, this extraordinary novel tells the stirring, erotically charged story of Madame Mao Zedong, the woman almost universally known as the 'white-boned demon,' whom many hold directly responsible for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. Bringing her lush psychological insight to bear on the facts of history, Min penetrates the myth surrounding this woman and provides a "convincing, nuanced portrait of a damaged personality" (Entertainment Weekly) driven by ambition, betrayal, and a never-to-be-fulfilled need to be loved. With all the compressed drama and high lyrical poetry of great opera, BECOMING MADAME MAO is a "remarkable accomplishment . . . Madame Mao is finally given her own voice" (Ha Jin).
In a sweeping, erotically charged story that moves gracefully from the intimately personal to the great stage of world history, Anchee Min renders a powerful tale of passion, betrayal, and survival and creates a finely nuanced and always ambiguous portrait of one of the most fascinating, and vilified, women of the twentieth century.
Madame Mao is almost universally known as the "white-boned demon" — ambitious, vindictive, and cruel — whose bid to succeed her husband led to the death of millions. But Min's story begins with a young girl named Yunhe, the unwanted daughter of a concubine who ignored her mother's pleas and refused to have her feet bound. It was the first act of rebellion for this headstrong, beautiful, and charismatic girl. She later fled the miseries of her family life, first to a provincial opera troupe, then to Shanghai and fame as an actress, and finally to the arid, mountainous regions of Yenan, where she fell in love with and married Mao Zedong. The great revolutionary leader proved to be an inattentive husband with a voracious appetite for infidelity, but the couple stayed together through the Communist victory, the disastrous Great Leap Forward, and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.
Min uses the facts of history and her lush, penetrating psychological imagination to take us beyond the myth of the person who so greatly influenced an entire generation of Chinese. The result is a complex portrait of a woman who railed against the confines of her culture, whose deep-seated insecurities propelled her to reinvent herself constantly, and whose ambition was matched only by her ferocious, never-to-be-fulfilled need to be loved. A daring narrative with all the compressed drama and high lyrical poetry of great opera, BECOMING MADAME MAO is the most ambitious and provocative work of Anchee Min's career.
A fictional portrait of Jiang Ching, one of the most vilified women of the century, follows the life of Madame Mao, from her youth as the unwanted daughter of a concubine, to her search for fame as an actress in Shanghai, to her romance and marriage to revolutionary Mao Zedong, to her role in the turbulent Communist rule of China. By the author of Red Azalea. Reader's Guide available.
About the Author
Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At seventeen she was sent to a labor collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a movie actress. She came to the United States in 1984 with the help of actress Joan Chen. Her memoir, Red Azalea, was named one of the New York Times Notable Books of 1994 and was an international bestseller, with rights sold in twenty countries. Her novels Becoming Madame Mao and Empress Orchid were published to critical acclaim and were national bestsellers. Her two other novels, Katherine and Wild Ginger, were published to wonderful reviews and impressive foreign sales.
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