Some books stay with you, well beyond turning the last page.
Anchee Min’s first book Red Azalea is one such book. I read it years ago, completely emersed in this brave woman’s attempts to live through the harsh realities of what has become known in China now as The Ten Years of Turmoil – known as the Great Cultural Revolution.
That book followed in a long line of books written in English, dealing with the struggles faced by Chinese people . Who hasn’t heard of Pearl S. Buck? Her novel The Good Earth, first published in 1931, has achieved world-wide fame and taught in many high schools.
Anchee Min has written about Pearl Buck, and her lifelong friendship with her school friend. Anchee explains how she researched the story of Willow and Pearl here:
In this video, Anchee reminds us of Pearl S Buck’s description of writing – chasing spirits and being invited into splendid dreams. I haven’t read Pearl of China yet, but look forward to it. I’ve since read a plethora of books dealing with life during the Cultural Revolution, beginning with Jung Chiang’s best seller Wild Swans – another book whose powerful story gets under your skin and creates lasting visual memories.
Anchee Min’s Red Azalea is like that. Some books have the power to invoke strong visual representation in the reader’s mind – I can still see my own personal image of the young Anchee lying in her bunk bed bemusing her fate during the difficult times of the Cultural Revolution.
I guess I was invited into splendid dreams.