May 7, 2013

Memoir: THE COOKED SEED by Anchee Min

Title: The Cooked Seed: A Memoir by Anchee Min
Published: May 7, 2013; Bloombury USA hardcover
The date was August 3, 1984. It was China's midnight and America's morning. I was about to drop out of the sky and land in Chicago. What made me scared and nervous was that I didn't speak English and had no money. The five hundred dollars I had folded in my wallet was borrowed. But I could not let myself be frightened. I was twenty-seven years old and life had ended for me in China. I was Madame Mao's trash, ..., which meant that I wasn't worth spit. For eight years, I had worked menial jobs at the Shanghai Film Studio. I was considered a "cooked seed" - no chance to sprout. (opening paragraph from the Advance Reading Copy)
Publisher's description:
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 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.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences from your current read and identify author and title for readers. First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. Opening sentences in a book can help readers decide if the book is one they would continue reading. 

Based on the opening paragraph of The Cooked Seed, would you keep reading?

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC of this book. 


  1. I loved Red Azalea many years ago... can't wait to read this one!

  2. I do want to know what happens next. Great opener!


  3. This looks fantastic - keep reading!

    I haven't read the first one but have just read a bit of Xinran's 'Women of China' stories and have found them fascinating (and heartbreaking).

  4. Great first paragraph. This sounds like a very compelling read. Min sounds as if she has had a difficult but eventful and enlightening life.

  5. The opening paragraph really drew me in. I'm placing this book on my TBR list, along with Min's Red Azalea.

    Here's my Tuesday pick:

  6. Sounds like an intense read. Enjoy.

  7. I love novels set in China and that is a compelling intro - I'd keep reading - Thanks so much for joining us this week.

  8. This is a terrific teaser! I'd definitely want to read more.

  9. This sounds like an interesting book! She's been through so much. I'd surely keep reading.


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