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Anchee Min

Originally posted February 2004

Empress Orchid

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In Chinese-born author Anchee Min's novel, a rural peasant girl makes her way to the Forbidden City, becomes one of thousands of royal concubines, winds up as one of the Emperor's wives, gives birth to his only son, and ultimately becomes ruler of China herself for nearly half a century. And the most startling part of the story is, it's true. Anchee Min now gives Tsu Hsi -- or "Orchid" -- the first-person voice history has long denied her.

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