Empress

by Shan Sa, translated by Adriana Hunter

Available from HarperCollins

Such is the voice of Shan Sa's unforgettable heroine in her latest literary masterpiece, Empress. Empress Wu, one of China's most controversial figures, was its first and only female emperor, who emerged in the seventh century during the great Tang Dynasty and ushered in a golden age. Throughout history, her name has been defamed and her story distorted by those taking vengeance on a woman who dared to become emperor. But now, for the first time in thirteen centuries, Empress Wu (or Heavenlight, as we come to know her) flings open the gates of the Forbidden City and tells her own astonishing tale—revealing a fascinating, complex figure who in many ways remains modern to this day.

Writing with epic assurance, poetry, and vivid historic detail, Shan Sa plumbs the psychological and philosophical depths of what it means to be a striving mortal in a tumultuous, power-hungry world. Empress is a great literary feat and a revelation for the ages.

Shan Sa was born in Beijing. At the age of 8, she created a sensation in China when her first poems were published in Chinese magazines. She was acclaimed as a phenomenon of Chinese modern literature. Sa published four collections of her poetry in Chinese and became the youngest member of the Beijing Writers' Association before she was 16. At age 17, she moved to Paris and studied French. At 21, she published her first novel in French that received the famous French literary award Bourse Goncourt du Premier Roman. She has published six novels in French and three in English—Empress, Alexander and Alestria, and The Girl Who Played Go. Sa has received Kiriyama Prize in the United States and the Student Goncourt Prize in France, and her works have been translated into 30 languages.