In 1994, Anchee Min made her literary debut with a memoir of growing up in China during the violent trauma of the Cultural Revolution. Red Azalea became an international bestseller and propelled her career as a successful, critically acclaimed author. Twenty years later, Min returns to the story of her own life to give us the next chapter, an immigrant story that takes her from the shocking deprivations of her homeland to the sudden bounty of the promised land of America, without language, money, or a clear path. It is a hard and lonely road. She teaches herself English by watching Sesame Street, keeps herself afloat working five jobs at once, lives in unheated rooms, suffers rape, collapses from exhaustion, marries poorly and divorces.
But she also gives birth to her daughter, Lauryann, who will inspire her and finally root her in her new country. Min's eventual successes-her writing career, a daughter at Stanford, a second husband she loves-are remarkable, but it is her struggle throughout toward genuine selfhood that elevates this dramatic, classic immigrant story to something powerfully universal.
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Having read and liked all previous books by Anchee Min, I was looking forward to her latest publication - and deeply disappointed.
Somehow I had expected more "Chinese content", but the book seems to mainly about how extremely hard her life was, the major part is set after her emigration to the US and there she had an extremely difficult life, too.
Of course her life really was very hard, in China and then in the US, too. But after a few chapters her way of dealing with other people and problems got on my nerves. Yes, she had very little money, yes, life and people can be extremely unfair. But she also made some extremely bad choices, often took her bad mood out on others and the way she treated her daughter left me speechless.
She could have centred less on her heroic doings and the faults of others, written more about positive things, shown her life and achievements in a less negative light.
Everything, she is a wonderful narrator.
Most certainly not, any other book by Anchee Min: yes.
On the one hand I can understand the author being bitter about many things in her life. On the other hand I had expected her to be more positive about the achievements she managed. Getting the visa to the US, coping without speaking English, having a wonderful daughter, good friends etc.
Even weeks after having finished the audio book I am still shocked by the negativity of the narration.