Aug 20, 2008    #083
Contact: Laura Pate Byerley

Best-Selling Chinese Author Visits UMKC Anchee Min Reveals Life During the Cultural Revolution

When she arrives in Kansas City, Anchee Min plans to transport people to her childhood stomping grounds – China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair in Continuing Education will sponsor Min’s 7:30 p.m. appearance on Monday, Sept. 15 at Pierson Auditorium. Admission is free, but reservations are required.

To bring her audience into the world she left behind, Min will combine a reading of her best-selling memoir – “Red Azalea” – with performance art. Before she could write her name, Min learned to write “Long Live Chairman Mao!” As a 17-year-old, she worked at a labor camp near East China Sea.

Three years later, Madame Mao was searching for an actress to star in a propaganda film. Talent scouts noticed Min working in a cotton field, and selected Min for her “proletarian appearance.” Before the completion of the film, Mao Zedong died. Madame Mao was sentenced to death, and Min was labeled a political outcast.

In 1984, a friend helped Min leave China for Chicago. By watching “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” Min taught herself to speak English.

Although Chinese is her native language, Min said English gave her a means to express her emotions.

“There was no way for me to describe those experiences or talk about those feelings in Chinese,” Min has said of a language characterized by Maoist vocabulary.

The Carolyn Benton Cockefair Advisory Committee invited Min to UMKC because her work is raw, passionate, fearless, disturbing and funny, said Betsy Beasley, chair of the committee.

“Her writing is honest, and our audience will see Chinese history and its impact through Min's personal experiences in China," Beasley said.

In an effort to correct falsely-written Chinese histories, Min also wrote “Katherine,” “Becoming Madame Mao,” “Wild Ginger,” “Empress Orchid” and “The Last Empress.”

To RSVP, call the Central Ticket Office at 816-235-6222 or e-mail

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban engagement.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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