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Anchee Min's life as an immigrant student in America.

The Cooked Seed: A Memoir - Anchee Min

Having read and enjoyed Empress Orchid and Pearl of China (both 4 stars), I was looking forward to reading The Cooked Seed, before Anchee Min comes to our literary festival in March. Unfortunately her memoir didn't involve me in the same way that her historical fiction had.


Although I hadn't read the first installment, Red Azalia, this wasn't a problem as Ms Min's life in China was covered in the first 10% of The Cooked Seed. I think her early life would have been a more interesting read than her life as a struggling immigrant student in America, whose main worry was obtaining the Green Card and the right to remain in the country. While I can sympathise with her concerns, it didn't make for very exciting reading.


When Anchee Min arrived in America in 1984, she spoke no English. Her first 6 months were spent attending English classes to raise her knowledge of the language to a level where she could study. She scraped a living together by working five jobs at the same time and carried her Chinese/English dictionary everywhere. Her determination to succeed was amazing.

She made a number of mistakes - got conned out of her savings and then invested in a run-down tenement block with standing tenants, which involved a constant run of repairs and renewals. She made a lot of bad choices, including marrying a man who she didn't really love.


I don't know if it was the way the book seemed to turn into a series of anecdotes that left me underwhelmed, but the first half was definitely more interesting than the second and although I didn't struggle to finish, my interest had definitely waned.

I definitely plan to read Red Azalia at some time, however.