Anchee Min was born in Shanghai in 1957. At 17 she was sent to a labour collective, where a talent scout for Madame Mao's Shanghai Film Studio recruited her to work as a propaganda film actress. She moved to the United States in 1984. Her first memoir, Red Azalea, was published in 27 countries. She has since published six novels, including Empress Orchid, The Last Empress and most recently Pearl of China. Her latest memoir is The Cooked Seed. She lives in California.