Bestselling author Anchee Min pens a second memoir about her long, hard road to success in the U.S.
The Daily Beast: What made you decide to tell the second part of your story now? The first part, about your childhood in Mao’s China, you told in Red Azalea. What made you decide to talk about coming to America in The Cooked Seed?
Anchee Min: I think it had to do with my daughter. She was born in Chicago and grew up in America ... raising her was a learning experience. She grew up here and when she was applying to colleges a few years ago, she said, 'You know, Mom, you have a platform.' Lauryann reminded me that I had a platform, and that I represented a population of immigrants who are voiceless. Back in China, I wrote Red Azalea because so many of the people that I knew in labor camps, they just vanished. And I had this survivor's guilt and I came here and wrote Red Azalea—it was voice they didn’t have, and I voiced it for them. And it never occurred to me that I could represent a population here that was also voiceless. But it makes sense. Because I came here without English, with no education, so therefore I could only work on low-end jobs and live in the bottom of the American society. Which turned out to be a blessing for me as a writer—it made the foundation for The Cooked Seed.