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Min’s indelible memoir, Red Azalea (1994) became an instant success and launched a literary career that began in poverty and despair during China’s Cultural Revolution. In this interview, Min talks about the life of Empress Tzu Hsi, the resilient, powerful and reviled empress of China from 1856 to 1908, who entered the Forbidden City as an anonymous concubine and rose to become the country’s ultimate ruler. Empress Orchid (2004) covered the first part of Tzu Hsi’s startling life; The Last Empress continues the story until her death. Min’s other books, Katherine, Wild Ginger, and Becoming Madame Mao have cemented the author’s reputation as a writer of great insight and passion.