Maxine Hong Kingston Biography
Maxine Hong Kingston, born Maxine Ting Ting Hong, is the third of eight children. Her parents were born in China but came to the United States in the 1920s and ran a laundry house, despite the fact that her father was a scholar and teacher in China. Kingston is known for her intricate weaving of fact and fiction, and she has won several prestigious literary awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction as well as the 1981 National Book Award. Kingston also received the 1997 National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton. A notable political activist, she even won a publishing award for editing the book Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace in 2006. Her best-known works are The Woman Warrior and China Men, both nonfiction.
Facts and Trivia
- Kingston’s novel Tripmaster Monkey is based on Sun Wu Kong, a mythical Chinese character.
- Kingston taught high school math and English in the earlier years of her marriage.
- Kingston was arrested in 2003 during a protest against the Iraq War when she stepped over a police line. She shared a jail cell with authors Alice Walker and Terry Tempest Williams, who were also part of the demonstration.
- Kingston won eleven scholarships that allowed her to attend the University of California at Berkeley. She began her college years as an engineering major before switching to English literature.
- Kingston’s early books have been criticized as not portraying Chinese culture accurately enough. She has countered that she is merely explaining her own experiences, not Chinese culture as a whole.
- Kingston has also served as a writing professor across the country in locations such as Hawaii, California, and Michigan.
- She has cited Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, and William Carlos Williams as inspirations and influences.