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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  551 ratings  ·  48 reviews
This novel, described by the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review as "nothing short of miraculous," is the story of Zebra Wong, a Chinese girl whose pragmatic mind conflicts with her passionate heart; Lion Head, her classmate, whose penchant for romantic intrigue belies his political ambitions, and Katherine, the seductive American with the red lipstick and the wild laugh w...more
256 pages
Published 1995 by Hamish Hamilton
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(showing 1-30 of 1,102)
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Barbara Loggia
I went back to my reading of China history, now post Mao. There's a degree of truth in fiction that can't be learned in history books. Anchee Min again brings us forward, based on her own experiences living through her birth in 1957 in Shanghai through her forced time in a labor collective to her move to the United States by way of her acting career.
It's 6 years since the death of chairman Mao and the country has just begun to open it's doors to foreign devils. The central character seems to be...more
As usual, Anchee Min astounds with her use of relatively simple English that still affects the heart.

"I went to work dressed in stars and came back to the tent carrying the moon on my head."

I would recommend this book to anyone who is planning on being an ESL teacher, particularly those headed to Asia.


I had a hard time understanding what language the narrator and Katherine are using throughout the book. She speaks of how Katherine's Chinese is improving, but no real analysis is...more
Aug 11, 2008 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fa
This book is about a chinese girl in her late twenties, who having grown up during the cultural revolution, like so many thosands of others has life stunted by chairmans mao's policy of sending students to work on isolated labour camps or collective farms for years on end, resulting in a lack of proper education and limited career prospects. The protagonist in this book faces a bleak future as a production line worker in a state factory until she manages to enroll on a government sponsored langa...more
Stephen Gallup
Despite the time that has elapsed since I read this one, I remember two aspects of it quite clearly.

First, for at least the first half I forgot it was a work of fiction. That's partly because virtually everything I'd been reading previously about China was memoir or biography, so I was predisposed to think this was more of the same. But also it was very easy to assume from the narrative that the author was recounting real events -- until a point at which a jarring change of perspective forced me...more
The novel Katherine written by Anchee Min tells the story of a Chinese Girl "Zebra" living in China during the 1980's after the chaotic, and painful years of the Cultural Revolution in China during which the lifestyles of the rich were condemned and the peasants and the good of the people and modern knowledge were held up as the standard as well as Chairman Mao's teachings and beliefs. These philosophies led to many underground cruelties and a generation who was now living under a government who...more
Carl Brush
Anchee Min has been around for a while, but I didn’t run across her till just now. Katherine was published in 1995, and seems to have been Min’s first novel after having received wide acclaim for her memoir Red Azalea, about her life in China of the cultural revolution, during which her acting talent and the attentions of actress Joyce Chen bought her a ticket to America. Katherine gives us a taste of both worlds Min has become familiar with. Our narrator (first person) is a hard-life Chinese wo...more
Nov 08, 2007 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
Anchee Min’s novel Katherine is a nifty little potboiler of a Chinese operatic kind. The setting is Shanghai, 1983, and a group of 20-something students, some of whom are fresh off hinterland farms where they had been exiled during the Cultural Revolution, vie for the attention of their American English-language teacher. The novel has interesting characters, mildly engaging plot developments, some steamy scenes, and a generous peppering of Chinese turns of phrase. I picked up the novel, which wa...more
Itis very interesting book. It gets into the culture following the cultural revolution. It's great how Anchee Min is able to describe the fear and inability of older Chinese students to use their imagination because it was pounded out of them during the revolution. By creating the main character, Kathrine, she is able to show how the Chinese and American cultures can be very different and misunderstood while at the same time human-beings are very similar in their physical and emotional needs. Ex...more
Jul 29, 2010 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of complex relationships, stories set in China
Recommended to Susan by: Galveston bookshop
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I found this book from 'Book-sale' I think it's really good so I bought it. When I'm reading the first few sentences. I was like, "okay.. another novel. what's up?" I felt nothing in this book so I have a hard time finishing it. But when I saw the flaws of Chinese communism, I realized that there are countries that suffer too. I thought it was only my country who suffers the most. It's my first time to read this kind of novel. I'm a teenager so I'm mostly overwhelmed with fiction.

I loved the wa...more
My first response is that this book was a disappointment, but in thinking about it, I'm not really sure how I feel about this book--it never really grabbed me. I kept waiting to get into it, but that never happened. Hmmm ... There are, though, some beautifully written passages, which I liked very much.
I don't want to spoil anything for future readers, so stop here if you're concerned about that. There are some things about the book that bother me as a teacher--and as a teacher in a (now formerly...more
Ksania Katzman (Shzuplik)
Its amazing ! makes your soul ache and you wish this novel did not end . I read it as a teen and reread it now .. it still has the same effect ; Anchee Min makes you fall in love with china despite everything .
Must read all of her china novels now !
I was fortunate to have read Min's memoir 'Red Azalea' before perusing this novel so I had some background as to Chairman's Mao's teachings.

There were many moments in this story that captured me. It's amazing that the early teachings in China under the Mao's tutilege, has born a society that was taught to 'feel nothing'. Katherine represented something contemporary for her students who teaches them english and how to be individuals. Her classroom and associations with her students were both trag...more
i discovered this book by accident one day, on the bargain table at borders. i don't remember why i bought it, just felt strangely compelled and drawn to it. so now i have to say a big thank you to my intuition, since this book has been read and loved many times.

anchee min writes from the quiet place inside of us that roars. her prose is almost painted with a brush. she's an amazing woman...she's a painter, a musician, an actress, a writer, and to boot, englih is her second language-one i think...more
While I'm not giving the book 5 stars, I'm really glad I read it. I know next to nothing of China, and the main charater's story (I forget her Chinese name) is so heart-wrenching and inspiring. The plot had a slow burn to it, but was in a weird way very exciting to read. I never knew what to expect from this book; it always surprised me.
It's true that the author writes very simply, but her words still hold a lot of power. I'm looking forward to reading Anchee Min's other books.
I liked all of her other books better.
This book is definetly an interesting one. At first, I didn't mind it so much but as I progressed I hated each character more and more. There was not one character in the book in whom, i liked. I felt like Katherine was a complete idiot, Zebra was too desperate and annoying, and Lion Head was just a complete jerk. I felt like this book cast America and China in a very negative night! I would not recommend reading this book at all!
Kristin Dittmann
Not Min's most powerful work, Katherine nevertheless tells a compelling story of what happens when an American teacher captivates a group of rigidly raised adult Chinese students. The tale moves at a brisk pace and captures the distinctive mindset of young adults trained not to think for themselves who nonetheless find the open-minded ways of their bewitching teacher both disturbing and fascinating.
Read many years ago , at least 15 and he stuck with me. Recommended it to our book club when we first started maybe 8 years ago. Now was reminded of it because i am reading Empress Orchid. This book is about Chinese youth with very little choice in their life who fall in love with their English teacher. it also portrays a frightening Chinese adoption.
Just read this recently and absolutely loved it, China in the 80's and the after effects of communist rule , throw an American teacher into the mix and her naive way to look at China ( when the rose glasses come off ) .. and a ordinary yet curious student.. i was able to understand China and the culture that much more after reading this..
Dec 29, 2007 Rebecca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in the cultural revolution
Min is one of my favorite authors and this is one of her first books. It explores the relationship between Katherine- a teacher from the United States that comes to China at the end of the cultural revolution, and her students that are both facinated and in love with her. It shows a contrast between East and West that's facinating and maddening.
May 07, 2008 Megan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Never read any of her stuff before, but this one really impressed me. I was so caught up that towards the end, I was reading at stoplights on my way to work so I could finish! Taking place in Shanghai in the eighties, this was an interesting insight into the post-Mao psyche of the chinese people. Very cool!
Alon Shalev
Haunting, vivid, I am still dreaming of Katerine, the teacher, of the narrator, and Lion Head. Anchee Min provides a lesson in how to write simple but captivating characters that stay with the reader long after the book has been closed and is gathering dust on the shelf.

Oct 21, 2007 Tina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This was the best book I've read by Min, and I've read all her books but one. A lot of similar themes are in this book like her other books: communism, love affairs and betrayal. But by the end of the book, I was anxiously awaiting the ending and I was not disappointed!
Felt a little flat for the first half... Picked up steam in the second half, and I was really touched by the ending. At times I felt that, other than the narrator, the characters mostly existed to bring ideas to life, rather than as fully real people.
This is one of those books where I can't quite decide what I thought of it. I can't figure out whether it was genius or just mediocre. But I was at least fascinated by Anchee Min's writing and I am very glad that I have three other of her books.
I feel like I should have liked this, but I just didn't. I didn't care about any of the characters. I thought the writing was repetitive with too much show, not enough tell. I think I'll give other Min books a chance, but this was a flop for me.
Katie M.
Another day, another Anchee Min book I just didn't really like. I'll give Red Azalea a try and then I think I might have to foresake her forever.
I like her writing style. I particularly liked this book for the poems, the sayings and the Chinese stories. Clearly we can see the attitude of the Chinese post Mao, and clearly, the differences between and East and West cultures.
Min's writing is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

There were a few lines in the book I thought were overwrought but, overall, her foray into fiction is filled with the lyrical writing and insight into the heart that is distinctly Min's.
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Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At seventeen she was sent to a labor collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a movie actress. She moved to the United States in 1984. Her first memoir, Red Azalea, was an international bestseller, published in twenty countries. She has since published six novels, including Pearl of China and the forthc...more
More about Anchee Min...
Empress Orchid (Empress Orchid, #1) Red Azalea The Last Empress (Empress Orchid, #2) Pearl of China Becoming Madame Mao

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