Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min

By Anchee Min

From the best-selling writer of pink AZALEA, this remarkable novel tells the stirring, erotically charged tale of Madame Mao Zedong, the lady nearly universally often called the 'white-boned demon,' whom many carry without delay answerable for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. Bringing her lush mental perception to endure at the proof of historical past, Min penetrates the parable surrounding this girl and gives a "convincing, nuanced portrait of a broken character" (Entertainment Weekly) pushed via ambition, betrayal, and a never-to-be-fulfilled have to be enjoyed. With all of the compressed drama and excessive lyrical poetry of significant opera, changing into MADAME MAO is a "remarkable accomplishment . . . Madame Mao is ultimately given her personal voice" (Ha Jin).

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Nah stands up and kicks away her chair. Her elbow accidentally hits the table. A dish falls. Breaks. Pieces of ceramics scatter on the floor. Grease splatters on the mother's shoe. You have killed me, Nah. Madame Mao suddenly feels short of breath. Her hand grips the edge of the table to prevent herself from falling. Pretend that you never had me, Mother. You can't disown your mother! *** Well, all my hope is gone. I am exhausted and ready to exit the stage for good. The last curtain time will be tomorrow morning at five-thirty when the guards change shift.

At night, after the performances, the girl hears sobbing. After her mistress takes off the makeup and costume, the girl sees a withered face. A young woman of twenty but who looks forty. A face of wood, carved heavily with wrinkles. There must be a ghost's hand working on this face, the girl thinks to herself. When the girl goes out to fetch duck-blood soup on her mistress's order, she sees men waiting. Each night, a different man. They are the troupe owner's friends. Most of them are old, and a couple of them have a mouthful of gold teeth.

The town is the birthplace of Confucius. It is called Zhu. The ancient walls and gates stand high. From the girl's window the hills are like giant turtles crawling along the edge of the earth. The Yellow River runs through the town and its murky waters make their way lazily to the sea. The coast cities and provinces have been occupied by foreign forces—first the Germans and now the Japanese—since China lost the Opium War in 1858. China is collapsing and no one pays attention to the girl's cries.

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