At once a coming-of-age tale and a heart-rending love story, Wild Ginger explores the devastating experience of the Cultural Revolution, which defined Anchee Min’s youth. The beautiful, iron-willed Wild Ginger is only in elementary school when she is singled out by the Red Guards for her foreign-colored eyes.” Her classmate Maple is also a target of persecution. The novel chronicles the two girls’ maturing in Shanghai in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Chairman Mao ruled absolutely and his followers took up arms in his name. Wild Ginger grows up to become a model Maoist, but her love for a man soon places her in an untenable position and ultimately in mortal danger. This slim and powerful novel examines the fragile sensibilities and emotions of an entire generation of Chinese youth” (Washington Post) and brilliantly delineates the psychological and sexual perversion of those times.
Set during the Cultural Revolution in China, this theatrical novel is both a tragic love story and a parable that illustrates the corruption caused by political and moral fanaticism. After saving a young female fishmonger from a ruthless crook, Wild Ginger, a fourteen-year-old orphan, is honored by Chairman Mao Tse-tung, who appoints her the commander-in-chief of the Red Guard, a position that requires her to become "the people's servant." When she falls in love with a fellow revolutionary, she is forced to choose between herself and her political ideology. Wild Ginger revisits the themes of Min's bestselling novel Becoming Madame Mao. Its plot is as formulaic as an opera, and its tragic heroine's fate is melodramatic. What redeems this book is its narrator, Maple, the confidante of Wild Ginger. Ultimately, it is Maple's insight and touching devotion to her friend that steal the show.