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3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  641 Ratings  ·  57 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 1,373)
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Nov 29, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating study of the human spirit, and how it opens or closes in response to what life throws our way. I really appreciated being given the inner view of Zebra's experience - as a child and teen laborer in Maoist China, and a young adult in post-revolutionary China, opening her mind to the ideas of her American teacher - the "foreign devil." Often fiction can give such a deep and visceral sense of time/place/experience. There were a number of passages that were so beautiful that I ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Siv30 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
"את הספר רכשתי בפגומים של צומת ב- 15 וטוב שכך אחרת הייתי מייללת לכם כאן על הכסף ששפכתי לשווא. סיפורן של שתי נשים, אחת מהן שמה הוא – כן צדקתם – קתרין. היא מורה אמריקאית, המחליטה להגיע לסין לערוך מחקר על חיי הנשים הסיניות ובמקביל ללמד סטודנטים סיניים אנגלית. השני היא זברה וונג, סטודנטית, פועלת שחורה במפעל ייצור בסין שלאחר מות היו""ר מאו. התקופה שברקע הספר היא תקופת פתיחת סין לקשרים עם המערב, תקופת דימדומים בה סממני המשטר הקומוניסטי עוד לא פגו וזכרון מהפכת התרבות צרוב חזק בזיכרון העממי. קתרין מביא ...more
Barbara Loggia
Apr 07, 2014 Barbara Loggia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After several aborted attempts, I finally finished “Katherine” in a flurry this morning. In my previous attempts, it was difficult to get past the first third of the novel, as it was slow in starting and setting characters and plot. Once past that point, however, things snowballed furiously towards the end. What had started as a slow tale about an American ESL teacher coming to China in the early 80s quickly warped into a harrowing, tense and rapidly paced drama. Author Anchee Min expertly illus ...more
Jul 16, 2009 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, chinese-authors
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
Aug 11, 2008 Michael rated it liked it  ·  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
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 R.
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 liked it  ·  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
Dec 27, 2015 Aj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Katherine is a work of art that introduces so many questions about the nature of love, resilience, imperialist, racism, and the human spirit. This is only the second book by Anchee Min I've read, the first being "The Cooked Seed." I can see how she mined parts of her life to write this novel. Her writing is clear, strategic, masterful. She can create images packed so tightly with meaning that you chew on them for some time. I may have found a new favorite writer!
May 27, 2016 Kristel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book written by Anchee Min, a Chinese author, is about an American teacher who goes to China to teach English and complete a paper for her dissertation on women in China. The author contrasts the differences between American women and the Chinese woman's freedom of self expression. All her students are captivated by her but the not as much as Lion Head, Zebra and Jasmine who's trianglulated relationships are ever moving and changing. Zebra fears Jasmine, doesn't have much respect for Lion H ...more
Aug 28, 2007 Rachal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 24, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was captivated by this story. Having been in China I felt a real connection with the living, breathing relationships in this story. The conflicts and underlying tensions which develop between the juxtaposition of American and Chinese cultures is very real and revealing. I could not put the book down.
Jul 29, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  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.
May 22, 2011 J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 03, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ana Simonovska
May 11, 2016 Ana Simonovska rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a heavy book, I feel so depressed reading it, but I loved it!! Life is so hard and it's good to hear it could be harder but you must hope and try.... And you may get lucky. Stressful and wonderful book!!
Katherine Coble
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2009 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 13, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2011 Virag rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 05, 2014 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked all of her other books better.
Jun 05, 2012 Tallia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 02, 2011 Georgette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  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 liked it  ·  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
Jan 31, 2010 Alon Shalev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

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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
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“I felt tired, but I pitched the ball back at her. "You want me to talk about myself, right? Let me tell you what 'self' means to me. The self, myself, the self as I see it, is composed mainly of selected memories from my history. I am not what I am doing now. I am what I have done, and the edited version of my past seems more real to me than what I am at this moment. I don't know who or what I really am. The present is fleeting and intangible. No one in China wants to talk about his past, because nobody wants to paint his face black. Our past is not a flattering picture, and no one wants to look at it for long. Yet what we were in fixed and final. It is the basis for predictions of what we will be in the future. To tell you truth, I identify with what no longer exists more than what actually is. We have lied about what we actually are, and that, unfortunately, will be your book. So would you still like me to talk about myself?” 0 likes
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