Wild Ginger

by Anchee Min
USA. 240 pages. 2004.

The year is 1969, and gentle 14-year-old Maple lives in fear of the bully Hot Pepper, a violent little Maoist who even terrifies their teacher. But Hot Pepper meets her match in Wild Ginger. Beautiful and self-possessed, Wild Ginger is used to the abuse that her unusually light eyes and skin–her father was part French–provoke, and she fights back, thus winning Maple’s adoration, even as she recognizes their differences. Determined to erase the taint of what’s considered a shameful legacy, Wild Ginger is hell-bent on becoming the ultimate Maoist, even taking a vow never to marry. Maple is appalled by the cruelty and lies of the Communists, including their claim that love is merely a bourgeois desire. Later when the close friends fall for the same young man, things go awry as they always do in tales of thwarted passion, but in their barbaric circumstances, private heartache takes on cataclysmic dimensions. As in all her unsparing, compelling, and transcendent books, Min discerns both the vulnerability and strength of individuals and, more disturbingly, unveils the eroticism of pain. Click here to see the Readers Guide from Houghton Mifflin.

About the Author:

Anchee Min (born January 14, 1957) is a painter, photographer, musician, and author who lives in San Francisco and Shanghai, where she was born in 1957.

Like her character Wild Ginger, she ardently followed the tenets of Maoism to save her spirit and joined the Red Guards to avoid being attacked. 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 propaganda-movie actress. She moved to the United States in 1984 with the help of actress Joan Chen. Min’s critically acclaimed novel Becoming Madame Mao was a national bestseller. Her 1994 memoir, Red Azalea, was named a New York Times Notable Book and was an international bestseller, with rights sold in more than twenty countries. She is married to author Lloyd Lofthouse. (Houghton Mifflin, Wikipedia)