Anchee Min —
Surviving the Religion of Mao

Author Anchee Min has won acclaim for her memoir of growing up in China under Mao Zedong. She's also written several works of fiction in which she explores the human hunger to survive against extreme social brutality. In this conversation, Anchee Min tells us what she learned about the human spirit in the forced labor camp in which she spent her teenage years, and how she's found healing in America.

Share Episode

Shortened URL


Anchee Min

was born in Shanghai in 1957. She came to the United States in 1984. She's the author of several books, including her memoir Red Azalea and, most recently, The Last Empress, a sequel to Empress Orchid.

SoundSeen (our multimedia stories)

Mao Is the Reddest Sun

View a gallery of images of Chinese propaganda posters from the early 1950s to the late 1970s.

About the Image

Chinese vendor sits by an old poster of the Cultural Revolution period featuring a portrait of Chinese former leader Mao Zedong at a store in Beijing.

Episode Sponsor

Share a Reflection



Wonderful exchange with Anchee Min. I am very curious about getting a copy of"The Cooked Seed" in Chinese or Mandarin. I checked online and came up without. I noted in the interview Anchee indicated that it had been translated underground?
If you do not have access to the resource perhaps you could pass this question on to the appropriate party. I have a friend, a contemporary of Anchee, who reads no English, but would greatly benefit from this discussion.
Thank you

I found this to be one of the most moving interviews I have ever heard. I'm a serial podcast listener, meaning, it's what I do. I'm in love with this medium. But this one interview is so high above all others. It crystalized this truth and far beyond: smiles don't tell the whole story, neither do the million Red Guards chanting Mao's name. We can dig deeper. Anchee's description of self devoid of her own creation, a self created by Mao, is astonishing when juxtaposed to her experience in the United States. Given the opportunity to explore, write, learn and reflect, you realize not only the gravity of Mao's crimes, more so, the inclination of humanity to grow. Must re-listen. So much wisdom here. Thank you, Anchee Min. You've got a new reader.