The Cooked Seed: A Memoir

Anchee Min

Bloomsbury, 2014

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

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 successful, 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. 


The Christian Science Monitor pick as a “Promising Nonfiction Book for Spring 2013”

Journal Sentinel editor’s pick for Summer Reading

Best Books of 2013 so far- Amazon

Nominated for the Northern California Book Award in Creative NonFiction as two of the best works by northern California authors published in 2013.


“[Min] writes with the mix of blunt candor and high drama that distinguishes both her memoirs.  It’s a prose style inspired by the didactic operas and films of Madame Mao-the only permissible art in China during Min’s youth-and she has developed it into an instrument with remarkable range, full of sorrow and humor, sometimes appealingly coarse and sometimes nuanced… America gave Min the chance to transport the seeds of her extraordinary story across the oceans, and urged them into bloom. An extraordinary story.”
The New York Times Book Review

“[Anchee Min is] a wild, passionate and fearless American writer.”
New York Times

“It’s the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was trying to be. Min’s story serves as both a love letter to her adopted country and a poignant wake-up call to Americans who take our freedoms for granted.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“[Min] is at her visceral best…[She] conveys [the immigrant story] with fresh intensity.”
—Los Angeles Times

“…a powerful story…Min’s writing is as beautiful and compelling as always here…Cooked Seed will hook you and stay with you for a long time.”
Associated Press

“[Min] writes, as always, with singeing candor and devastating precision…Min’s indomitable and magnificent memoir spans the full spectrum of the human experience, elucidates her noble mission as a writer, and portrays a woman of formidable strength and conviction.”
Booklist (starred)

“Her excoriating examination of the legacy of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, novelist Min (Pearls of China, etc.) offers a sharp, moving contrast between American and Chinese attitudes about human worth and dignity.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The power of this book is that Min ultimately did gain the courage to offer her honest self…this is Min’s reckoning with the past, in the way she could manage, and it is certainly brave.”
Ms. Magazine

“A truly rags-to-riches story from Shanghai to Chicago…an uplifting work of incredible grit and fortitude.”
Kirkus Review

“It’s a harrowing immigrant’s story of deprivation and hardship, even rape, but also one of dreams that come true.”
San Diego Union Tribune

“Min emerges as an author blossoming with expression, but grappling with self-definition.”
San Jose Mercury News

“[Anchee Min is] a woman of incredible talents with an important story to tell.”
Los Alamos Daily Post

“…this book is well worth reading.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Inspirational…[and] honest”
The Bismarck Tribune

“A moving sequel to a landmark memoir."

‘Their bedtime exchanges are some of the most beautiful examples of cultural relativism recorded… [The Cooked Seed] is part underdog thriller as [Min] claws her way to love and success… this one will unnerve them for her depiction of the West.”
The London Times

“One cannot help but admire both [Min’s] strength and the bluntness of her recounting… The Cooked Seed is a brave piece of writing that brings Western readers- for these are whom Min is mostly addressing- up to date with the life of one of the most popular female Chinese authors writing in English today. [The Cooked Seed] is very blunt and open, that is the purpose of this memoir.”
—Jill Baker, Asian Review of Books