Synopses & Reviews
The beautiful, iron-willed Wild Ginger is only in elementary school when we first meet her, but already she has been singled out by the Red Guards for her "foreign-colored eyes." Her classmate Maple is also a target of persecution. It is through the quieter, more skeptical Maple, a less than ardent Maoist whose father is languishing in prison for a minor crime, that we see this story to its tragic end.
The Red Guards have branded Wild Ginger's deceased father a traitor and eventually drive her mother to a gruesome suicide, but she fervently embraces Maoism to save her spirit. She rises quickly through the ranks and is held up as a national model for Maoism. Wild Ginger now has everything, even a young man who vies for her heart. But Mao's prohibition on romantic love places her in an untenable position. Into this sexually charged situation steps Maple, creating an uneasy triangle that Min has portrayed with keen pychological insight and her characteristic gift for lyrical eroticism.
In Anchee Min's previous three books she returned again and again to the devastating experience of the Cultural Revolution, which defined her youth. Here, in this slim but powerful novel, she gives us a moving story that goes closer to the core of that experience than anything she has written before, and brilliantly delineates the pychological and sexual perversion of those times. Ultimately, WILD GINGER has the clean lines of a parable, the poignancy of a coming-of-age novel, the sexiness of a French blue movie, and the sadness of a truly tragic love story.
"Min has created a memorable, unsettling love story using the horrors of Maoism which she experienced firsthand as a backdrop." Publishers Weekly
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 Mins 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.
About the Author
Anchee Min, who was born in Shanghai in 1957, has a personal connection to the story of Madame Mao. At seventeen, she was sent to a labor collective, where after three years a talent scout recruited her for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio. There she was trained to play the protagonists in Madame Mao's propaganda films and personally met Jiang Ching and others in her circle, who later provided Min with stories and insights. Min came to the United States in 1984 with the help of the actress Joan Chen. Her memoir, Red Azalea, was named a New York Times Notable Book of 1994 and was an international bestseller, with rights sold in twenty countries. Her first novel, Katharine, was published in 1997. Her second novel, Becoming Madame Mao, is a novelized biography of the woman who not only played a central role in Anchee Min's life, but for ten terrible years all but ruled the world's most populous nation. Her most recent novel is Wild Ginger. Anchee Min's best-selling memoir, Red Azalea, will soon be made into a film, directed by Oliver Stone. She resides in New York.