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The Milton Academy community will welcome best-selling memorist and novelist Anchee Min to campus on January 7 as part of the Academy’s Hong Kong Speaker series.

Anchee came to the United States in 1984 at the age of 27, speaking no English. Ten year later she had written, in English, her memoir, Red Azalea, a 1994 New York Times Notable Book, and published three other novels, Katherine, Becoming Madame Mao and Wild Ginger.

Born in Communist China in 1957, Anchee was taught to write “long live Chairman Mao” before she was taught to write her own name. In order to escape being beaten and persecuted, Anchee joined the Red Guard, Mao’s notorious youth group at the age of 9. At the age of 17, she was sent to a labor camp near the East China Sea, until in 1976 while working in a cotton field she was chosen by talent scouts looking for a “proletarian image” to star in Jiang Ching’s (Madame Mao’s) propaganda films. When Mao died and Jian Ching fell from power, Anchee was denounced as “political debris”. She worked as a set hand for eight years before fleeing to the United States.

Anchee now lives in California with her daughter, Lauryann Jiang. In addition to being a writer, she is also a painter, photographer, and a musician. Anchee is working on her fifth book, The Last Empress: the Life of China’s Imperial Ruler Cixi Orchid.