Maxine Hong Kingston Kingston, Maxine Hong (Literary Masters) - Essay


(Literary Masters)

Maxine Hong Kingston


1940: Maxine Ting Ting Hong is born on 27 October in Stockton, California, to Chinese immigrants, Tom Hong and Ying Lan Chew Hong. She is the first of the couple’s six children born in the United States. (Two children born earlier died in China.)

1954-1958: Kingston attends Edison High School in Stockton. In 1955 her essay “I Am an American” is published in The American Girl, the magazine of the Girl Scouts, winning her a $5 prize.

1958-1962: Kingston wins a journalism scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley, where she majors at first in engineering but later changes her course of study to English. While attending the university she works on the student newspaper, The Daily Californian. She graduates with a B.A. in English in 1962 and on 23 November of that year marries the actor Earll Kingston. 1964: Kingston’s son, Joseph Lawrence Chung Mei Kingston, is born.

1964-1965: Kingston studies for a teaching certificate at the University of California, Berkeley, and works as a student teacher at Oakland Technical High School.

1965-1967: Kingston teaches English and mathematics at Sunset High School in Hayward, California. She is active in the protest movement against the Vietnam War.

1967: Kingston moves with her husband and son to Hawaii, where she teaches English at Kahuku High School in Kahuku.

1968: Kingston teaches at Kahaluu Drop-in School in Kahaluu, Hawaii.

1969: Kingston teaches English as a second language at Honolulu Business College and language arts at Kailua High School in Kailua.

1970-1977: Kingston teaches language arts at the Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu. In 1976 her first book, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, is published by Knopf and wins the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. Kingston’s short story “Duck Boy” is published in the 12 June 1977 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

1977-1981: Kingston is a visiting professor of English at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

1980: Kingston’s China Men is published by Knopf and is named to the American Library Association Notable Books List. She is named a “Living Treasure of Hawaii” by a Honolulu Buddhist sect.

1981: China Men wins the National Book Award for nonfiction, is nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and is a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, begins to compile the Maxine Hong Kingston Papers as one of its special collections.

1982: Kingston tours Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong on a trip sponsored by the United States International Communication Agency and the Adelaide Arts Festival in Australia.

1984: Kingston visits China for the first time with a group of six other writers—Alien Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Francine du Plessix Gray, Leslie Marmon Silko, Toni Morrison, and Harrison Salisbury—on a tour sponsored by the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Chinese Writers Association. Kingston moves with her husband from Hawaii to Los Angeles; their son, Joseph, remains in Hawaii, where he has established himself as a musician.

1986: Kingston is named Thelma McAndless Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Eastern Michigan University.

1987: Kingston’s Hawai’i One Summer, 1978 is published by Meadow Press in a limited edition of two hundred copies. Through the Black Curtain, comprising excerpts from The Woman Warrior, China Men, and the manuscript of her novel-in-progress, “Tripmaster Monkey,” is published by the Friends of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. She moves with her husband to Oakland, California.

1989: Kingston’s first novel, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, is published by Knopf and wins the PEN/USA West Award for fiction. In November she spends a week at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as a University of California Regents Lecturer.

1990: Kingston is appointed a Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor in the English department at the University of California, Berkeley. The television program Maxine Hong Kingston: Talking Story is produced by Joan Saffa and Stephen Talbot for the Public Broadcasting System station KQED in San Francisco and CrossCurrent Media.

1991: Kingston gives the Martha Heasley Cox Lecture at San Jose State University. In October the Kingstons’ home is destroyed in an Oakland Hills fire, along with all of Kingston’s manuscripts, including a novel-in-progress, provisionally titled “The Book of Peace” or “The Fourth Book of Peace.” She begins work on another manuscript, to be called “The Fifth Book of Peace.”

1992: Kingston receives a fellowship from the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund and uses the prize money to begin writing workshops for veterans of the Vietnam War. She is inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

1993: On a leave of absence from teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, Kingston holds a series of workshops, “A Time to Be: Reflective Writing, Mindfulness, and the War: A Time for Veterans and their Families,” through the Community for Mindful Living in Berkeley.

1994: Kingston acts as guest conductor for a benefit concert with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. A dramatized version of The Woman Warrior is produced and performed by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and, later in the year, by the Huntington Theatre Company at Boston University.

1995: Kingston participates in a conference, “Vietnam Legacies: Twenty Years Later,” at the University of California, Davis. The stage adaptation of The Woman Warrior is produced by the Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles.

1997: Kingston returns to teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, and participates in a conference, “Peacemaking: The Power of Nonviolence,” held in San Francisco in June. In September she is presented with a National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton.

1998: Kingston wins the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature for Tripmaster Monkey.

About Maxine Hong Kingston

(Literary Masters)

Born: 27 October 1940 in Stockton, California

Married: Earll Kingston, 23 November 1962

Education: Edison High School, Stockton, and the University of California, Berkeley


Maxine Hong Kingston’s first two books, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976) and China Men (1980), are routinely referred to as works of autobiography. She would seem to have lent her authority to this view by the subtitle she gave to The Woman Warrior. But she describes her initial sense of all her work as that of a novelist, and she ascribes the decision to call her first two books nonfiction to her editors, who told her that reviewers are reluctant to review first novels, while readers feel they can identify with the people and narrative of an autobiography or memoir. Yet, all of Kingston’s work to date reveals a close affinity with the events and people of her own life. In The Woman Warrior she relates incidents from her childhood and early life; in China Men she writes about the immigrant history that produced her; and in her first novel, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1989), she draws on events from the years she attended the University of California, Berkeley.

Kingston was born Maxine Ting Ting Hong on 27 October 1940 in Stockton, California, the oldest child of Tom Hong and Ying Lan Chew Hong, immigrants from southern China. (Two children born to the Hongs before they immigrated died in China.) Her parents came from the village of Sun Woi, near Canton (Guangzhou), and were unusually literate and highly educated. Kingston recalls that they would recite classic Chinese poetry as well as village songs and rhymes and that as a young girl she failed to appreciate the extent of their learning. She describes her father as a poet, though she does not come from a family of writers. She

explains, “I feel I come from a tradition of literate people, even though they weren’t writers.”1

Kingston’s father immigrated to the United States in 1924. In China he had been a scholar and teacher, but when he arrived in New York City he was compelled to find manual rather than intellectual work. Fifteen years passed before he was able to send for his wife. During that time Ying Lan (Brave Orchid) studied medicine and worked as a doctor. Tom Hong eventually established a laundry in New York with two friends. When he found himself cheated of his proper share of the business, he moved with his wife, who had by then joined him, to Stockton. Here he initially worked as the manager of a gambling house, taking the owner’s place when the police raided and arrested everybody. In China Men Kingston relates the story of how she was named. According to her mother, her father named her “after a blonde gambler who always won” because he considered it a “lucky American name.”2 Kingston also describes the difficult circumstances in which her parents bought their house in Stockton. Twice they found a house they wished to buy, but in both cases the gambling-house owner, whom they asked to handle the transaction because he spoke English, bought the place himself and rented it to the Hongs, thus keeping them in the position of tenants. After finding a third house, Kingston’s parents said nothing to the gambling-house owner about their intentions until they had paid for it themselves’in cash. Kingston recalls that “It was exactly like the owner’s house, the same size, the same floor plan and gingerbread. . . . It was the biggest but most run-down of the houses; it had been a boarding house for old China Men. Rose bushes with thorns grew around it, wooden lace hung broken from the porch eaves, the top step was missing like a moat. The rooms echoed” (246). After the gambling house closed, the Hongs operated the New Port Laundry on El Dorado Street in Stockton.

All the family, including the children, shared the hard work of running the laundry. Here Kingston listened to her parents and other relatives “talk-story” as they recalled Chinese myths, fables, and history. In her writing she uses the stories she remembers from her childhood, and her memory helps to filter the important and enduring stories from the less significant: “I wrote from stories I remembered, because I knew if I asked them [her-parents] again, they would just tell another version. Besides, I feel that what is remembered is very important. The mind selects, out images and facts that have a certain significance. If I remember something that someone told me 20 years ago, then the story has lasted in that form for a very long time.”3

While Kingston admits to feeling that she is a “West Coast Chinese American,” she identifies with the rural country of the Central California Valley, “Stockton, Sacramento, Fresno, all of the Valley in the north,” rather than the city of San Francisco.4 In The Woman Warrior she gives a few glimpses of the Stockton in which she grew up. She refers to the time when “urban renewal tore down my parents’ laundry and paved over our slum for a parking lot. . . .”5 The Chinatown Kingston grew up in was located in the area surrounding Lafayette Street but was destroyed to make way for a crosstown freeway. About the destruction, she says, “our Chinatown was just a block and then the freeway wiped it out. It was such an insult, because they didn’t finish the freeway. They just made it go through Chinatown and it stopped right there.”6 The freeway remained incomplete for years, and its lack of purpose, coupled with the destruction that had made its partial construction possible, engendered what Kingston describes as paranoia among the residents. But she also admits that the destruction of the physical area that was Chinatown made her realize that the community existed not in a particular place but in the rituals and memories that everyone shared.

The Hong family lived in a rough neighborhood. In The Woman Warrior Kingston describes how her mother “locked her children in the house so we couldn’t look at dead slum people” (51). When Brave Orchid showed her sister around Stockton, she advised her how to avoid Skid Row on days when she was not feeling strong: “On days when you are not feeling safe, walk around it. But you can walk through it unharmed on your strong days” (139). In China Men Kingston recalls the derelicts and drunkards who tormented the children, telling of an afternoon when her sister barricaded herself under the dining-room table to escape the wino who was knocking on all the doors and windows (180). Their house was located adjacent to the railroad, a constant reminder of her great-grandfather’s contribution to the building of the transcontinental railroad. In describing the funeral of a great-uncle, Kau Goong, Kingston tells of how the procession headed for the Chinese cemetery and traveled past all the places that Kau Goong frequented in life, so that his ghost would not settle in any of these places: the Hongs’ house, Kau Goong’s club, the Benevolent Association in Chinatown, the Chinese school, the Catholic church, stores, and the laundry. Her fiction is based in this environment.

Kingston attended the Chung Wah Chinese School for Chinese American children on East Church Street in Stockton. In classes lasting from five o’clock to eight o’clock every night and from nine o’clock until noon on Sundays the children were taught how to write and speak Chinese.

In The Woman Warrior Kingston draws a series of contrasts between the American and Chinese schools, noting the different attitudes of the teachers and the children who would not speak English at the American school but did speak Chinese at the Chinese school. In Hawai’i One Summer (1987) she recalls her days at Edison High School, remembering that she had black girlfriends in school but was not really of their “set.” She did not consider sitting anywhere but at the Chinese lunch table: “There were more of us than places at that table. Hurry and get to the cafeteria early, or go late when somebody may have finished and left a seat.”7 The experience of being enmeshed in the Chinese community of Stockton provided the basis for Kingston’s writing. As a writer, she has been particularly affected by her recollection of the demands made by the two languages in which she was schooled as a child: English and the Chinese dialect spoken by her parents.

Kingston’s parents, like most of the Chinese community in Stockton at that time, came from the Say Yup region of China; the dialect of Cantonese known as “Say Yup” was Kingston’s first language. This has posed problems for her because the dialect has no written form. Even if she could represent these Chinese words and concepts in the alphabet of the English language, it would not satisfy her aim of representing the words spoken by Chinese Americans with an American accent. As Kingston has explained, “I’m specifically interested in how the Chinese American dialect is spoken in the California Valley. . . . When I write dialogue for people who are speaking Chinese, I say the words to myself in Chinese and then write them in English, hoping to capture some of the sounds and rhythms and power of Say Yup.”8

Language caused Kingston difficulties especially in her first years at school when, not knowing English and suffering fear and shyness as a result, she withdrew into silence. (This retreat into silence still comes upon the adult Kingston from time to time.) During such periods in her childhood she communicated in pictures rather than words, and for a time after she finished college she considered that perhaps she should work as a painter rather than a writer. Her awareness that she had in a sense already served her apprenticeship with words, whereas she was only beginning to learn the skills of a painter, took her back to writing.

Kingston began writing at the age of eight or nine, and indeed describes herself as a “born writer,” someone who cannot not write: her life has been shaped by what she calls “this desire always to find the words for life and for the invisible and for the visible and for the imagination.”9 Even when she was experiencing difficulty speaking, she continued to write. Kingston has described her memory of the first time a poem came to her: “I was sitting in a class and all of a sudden this poem came to me. I wrote 25 verses in something like a trance. I don’t recall what the class was about.”10 All through high school she wrote stories rather than poetry and confesses that the inability to understand the form of the academic essay or assignment meant that she received some poor grades. She recalls clearing space in her parents’ stockroom for her papers and notes. The stories she wrote in high school were to become those that make up The Woman Warrior and China Men. Kingston wrote these stories in various forms, with each successive version revealing her increased maturity and skill as a writer. For example, she explains how she “tried telling the China Men stories like Jason and the Argonauts, because I read that as a kid, where they were using epic hexameter meter, and so I tried to tell the story of the China Men as Jason and the quest for the Golden Fleece, using the hexameter rhythms and epic form. I suppose for decades I kept telling the same stories again and again, but each time I told it I had a better vocabulary and better craft.”11

The literary influences upon Kingston’s work, especially her early work, are limited. Kingston describes her childhood reading as being much like any other child’s. However, Jade Snow Wong’s Fifth Chinese Daughter (1945) had a significant impact upon her. In this autobiographical work, which is narrated by a young girl, Kingston found a Chinese American character with whom she could identify. At this point she realized that she had been falsely identifying with, and attempting to write stories about, the Caucasian characters with whom she was familiar from her reading. Kingston tells of a similar moment of self-consciousness while reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868): “1 was reading along, identifying with the March sisters, when I came across this funny-looking little Chinaman.’ It popped out of the book. I’d been pushed into my place. I was him, I wasn’t those March girls.”12 This kind of experience of exclusion from mainstream literature motivated her to create for herself a place in literature. Beyond this initial inspiration, her parents’ stock of myths, histories, and stories inspired and shaped her writing. Kingston reads a great deal of poetry, especially modern American poetry, and the work of prose writers such as Grace Paley and Cynthia Ozick who write in a poetic style. Virginia Woolf’s writing, in particular her novel Orlando (1928), has influenced aspects of Kingston’s work, as she has explained: “I do some of the same tricks with time like the China Men who have lived for hundreds of years, just like Orlando lived for hundreds of years, and their history goes on and on.”13 Two other writers who stand out as having had an important impact upon Kingston’s work are William Carlos Williams and Walt Whitman. The influence of Whitman is most clearly seen in Tripmaster Monkey, in which the protagonist takes the name Wittman Ah Sing, echoing several poems in the 1881-1882 edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, such as “One’s-Self I Sing.”

Kingston acknowledges Williams’s essay collection In the American Grain (1925) as an early influence, especially the way in which he retold the myth of America. In his re-creation of the origin of the nation—telling the story of how it came into being—she perceives a profound connection between his work and her own, especially China Men. Kingston points to the coincidence that the earliest episode in her book takes place around 1850, which is the historical end point of Williams’s book. Both writers tried to achieve a poetic retelling of American history. In China Men Kingston inserts almost as a halfway marker in the narrative a factual history of Chinese Americans, beginning with the California gold rush of the late 1840s and continuing through the various discriminatory acts of legislation that have helped to define the Chinese experience in America. She departed from her usual indirect style to write this chronological history because she was frustrated by the lack of awareness of Chinese American history among her readership. She could not simply assume that her readers would know the historical background to which she referred. Thus, Kingston filled in those gaps in the historical knowl-edge of her audience, hoping that “maybe another Chinese American author won’t have to write that history.”14

Kingston invokes this sense of claiming a place for Chinese Americans in the history of the United States when she describes her work as “claiming America.”15 She does not mean that Asian people should simply accept American values and lifestyles; rather, she means that Asian Americans belong to the nation as a part of its history and diverse culture and are not “outsiders” existing only on the margins of American life. As Kingston points out in her discussion of the role of Chinese laborers in the construction of the transcontinental railroad, without Chinese Americans, the United States would be a quite different country from what it is today. For this reason the grandfathers in China Men are not given personal names; they are called “great-grandfather” and “great-great-grandfather” because they then can take on a kind of mythological stature as the great-grandfathers of the nation. Kingston’s writing is always about America rather than China; her effort is to reveal and celebrate the place of the Chinese in American history and culture and to have that contribution recognized. In addition, she is forging a place for Chinese American writers in the tradition of American literature. She recalls that when she wrote the story of the No Name Woman, the first story in The Woman Warrior, she was thinking of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s depiction of the adulterous Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter (1850). The title of “The Making of More Americans,” from China Men, deliberately echoes Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans (1925), in which Stein attempted to forge a new American language, though Kingston has worked to create an American language with Chinese accents. In this way she responds to the social, political, and also literary...

(The entire section is 7855 words.)

Kingston At Work

(Literary Masters)


As a young girl Kingston developed the habit of writing down her thoughts and ideas. From these notes she developed her first two books, The Woman Warrior and China Men. Much of The Woman Warrior was written in Hawaii, though Kingston admits that she had been working on the book ever since she started writing as a child: “In a sense you could say that 1 was working on these books for 20 or 30 years, but in another sense I wrote them just a few years ago.”

(The entire section is 6513 words.)

Kingston’s Era

(Literary Masters)


Kingston’s writing has been heavily influenced by her cultural, social, and political milieu. The historical experience of Chinese immigrants in America provided much of the material for her first two books, The Woman Warrior and China Men. Kingston’s work has also been shaped by her feminist awareness. When The Woman Warrior was...

(The entire section is 7358 words.)

Kingston’s Works

(Literary Masters)

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. New York: Knopf, 1976.

Kingston’s first book catapulted her from almost complete obscurity to sudden fame as the best-known Asian American writer of the late twentieth century. The book was variously praised as a feminist master-piece and as a groundbreaking work of ethnic or multicultural literature. The narrative is divided into five interconnected stories: “No Name Woman,” “White Tigers,” “Shaman,” “At the Western Palace,” and “A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe.” Each focuses upon a feminine figure—a female alter ego for the narrator. The stories are linked together by the authorial voice of Kingston as she...

(The entire section is 16502 words.)

Kingston On Kingston

(Literary Masters)

Kingston As Studied

(Literary Masters)


When they were first published, both The Woman Warrior and China Men attracted a great deal of attention from critics who study autobiography. Kingston’s work has altered the nature of this genre, which had before been defined by classic works of American literature such as Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, the first complete edition of which was published in 1868. Classic autobiography tells the life story of some notable individual, someone whose life has been particularly significant in political or historical terms. The story develops chrono-logically, from earliest memories and childhood experiences through the mature achievements, in some cases...

(The entire section is 6325 words.)

Study Questions

(Literary Masters)

  1. Why is Kingston’s use of traditional Chinese myth considered controversial by some Asian American critics?
  2. In what ways is Kingston’s autobiographical form innovative?
  3. What is meant by the term “double consciousness”? How can this term be applied to Kingston’s writing?
  4. Explore the parallels between the historical treatment of Chinese immigrants in America and Kingston’s representation of the immigrant experience.
  5. Analyze Kingston’s use of narrative voice. Why does she invariably use a feminine narrator?
  6. Kingston describes The Woman Warrior and China Men as originally comprising one single long...

(The entire section is 753 words.)


(Literary Masters)


Lim, Shirley Geok-lin, ed. Approaches to Teaching Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. New York: Modern Language Association, 1991. A collection of essays with a pedagogical bias; includes a personal statement by Kingston and useful discussions of her formal experimentation, her use of traditional Chinese sources, and ways of approaching the text in the classroom.

Simmons, Diane. Maxine Hong Kingston. New York: Twayne, 1999. A comprehensive account of Kingston’s work. Simmons includes an extensive biographical essay and a brief interview with the author as well as close textual analyses of The Woman Warrior, China Men, and Tripmaster Monkey.

Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia, ed. Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior A Casebook. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. A useful collection representing the characteristic approaches to the text and the historical development of criticism of the book.


Brownmiller, Susan. “Susan Brownmiller Talks with Maxine Hong Kingston.” Mademoiselle (March 1977): 148-149, 210-211, 214-216.

Carabi, Angeles. “Interview with Maxine Hong Kingston.” Belles Lettres (Winter 1989): 10-11.

Moyers, Bill. A Conversation with Maxine Hong Kingston (videocassette). Alexandria, Va.: Public Broadcasting Service/Public Affairs Television, 1990.

Skenazy, Paul, and Tera Martin, eds. Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998. Brings together sixteen interviews, with an introduction by the editors and a chronology of Kingston’s life and career.

Thompson, Phyllis Hoge, “This Is the Story I Heard: A Conversation with Maxine Hong Kingston and Earll Kingston.” Biography, 6 (Winter 1983): 1-12.


Chen, Victoria. “Chinese American Women, Language, and Moving Subjectivity.” Women and Language, 18 (Spring 1995): 3-7.

Hattori, Tomo. “China Man Autoeroticism and the Remains of Asian America.” Novel, 31 (Spring 1998): 215-236.

Hune, Shirley, Hyung Chan Kim, Stephen S. Fugita, and Amy Ling, eds. Asian Americans: Comparative and Global Perspectives. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1991.

Kingston. “The Coming Book.” In The Writer on Her Work, edited by Janet Sternberg. New York: Norton, 1980.

Kingston. “Cultural Mis-readings by American Reviewers.” In Asian and Western Writers in Dialogue: New Cultural Identities, edited by Guy Amirthanayagam. London: Macmillan, 1982.

Kingston. “Finding a Voice.” In Language: Readings in Language and Culture, edited by Virginia P. Clark, Paul A. Eschholz, and Alfred F. Rosa, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Kingston. “How Are You? I Am Fine, Thank You. And You?” In The State of the Language, edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

Kingston. “The Novel’s Next Step: From the Novel of the Americas to the Global Novel.” In The Novel in the Americas, edited by Raymond Leslie Williams. Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1992.

Kingston. “Postscript as Process.” In The Bedford Reader, edited by X. J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy. New York: Bedford Books, 1985.

Kingston. “Precepts for the Twentieth Century.” In Thich Nhat-Hanh, For a Future to be Possible: Commentaries on the Five Wonderful Precepts. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1993.

Kingston. “Reservations About China.” Ms. (October 1978): 67-79.

Kingston. “San Francisco’s Chinatown: A View from the Other Side of Arnold Genthe’s Camera.” American Heritage, 30 (December 1978): 36-47.

Kingston and Thich Nhat-Hanh. “Forward.” In Chan Khong Cao Ngoc Phuong, Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1993.

Lim, Shirley Geok-lin, and Amy Ling, eds. Reading the Literatures of Asian America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

Ling. Between Worlds: Women Writers of Chinese Ancestry. New York & Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1990.

Ling. “Chinamerican Women Writers: Four Forerunners of Maxine Hong Kingston.” In Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing, edited by Alison Jaggar and Susan Bordo. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989.

Ling. “Chinese American Women Writers: The Tradition behind Maxine Hong Kingston.” In Redefining American Literary History, edited by A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff and Jerry W. Ward. New York: Modern Language Association, 1990.

Ling, Jinqi. “Identity Crisis and Gender Politics: Reappropriating Asian American Masculinity.” In An Inter- ethnic Companion to Asian American Literature, edited by King-Kok Cheung. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.


Blinde, Patricia Lin. “The Icicle in the Desert: Perspective and Form in the Works of Two Chinese-American Women Writers.” MELUS, 6, no. 3 (1979): 51-71. Discusses the autobiographical work of Kingston and Jade Snow Wong.

Buss, Helen M. “Memoir with an Attitude: One Reader Reads The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts.” A-B: Auto-Biography Studies, 12 (Fall 1997): 203-224.

Castillo, Debra A. “The Daily Shape of Horses: Denise Chavez and Maxine Hong Kingston.” Dispositio, 16, no. 4 (1991): 29-43.

Chang, Hsiao-Hung. “Gender Crossing in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster.MELUS, 22 (Spring 1997): 15-34.

Cheung, Kai-Chong. “Maxine Hong Kingston’s Non-Chinese Man.” Tamkang Review, 23 (Fall 1992 - Summer 1993): 421-430.

Cheung, King-Kok. Articulate Silences: Hisaye Yamamoto, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joy Kogawa. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993. Places Kingston within the context of significant Asian American women writers.

Cheung. “Self-Fulfilling Visions in The Woman Warrior and Thousand Pieces of Gold.” Biography, 13 (Spring 1990): 143-153.

Cheung. “Talk Story: Counter-Memory in Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men.” Tamkang Review, 24 (Fall 1993): 21-37.

Chu, Patricia P. “Tripmaster Monkey, Frank Chin, and the Chinese Heroic Tradition.” Arizona Quarterly, 53 (Autumn 1997): 117-139. A discussion of the controversy between Kingston and Frank Chin over how the canon of Chinese American literature should be characterized.

Chun, Gloria. “The High Note of the Barbarian Reed Pipe: Maxine Hong Kingston.” Journal of Ethnic Studies, 19 (Fall 1991): 85-94.

Cliff, Michele. “The Making of Americans: Maxine Hong Kingston’s Crossover Dreams.” Village Voice Literary Supplement, 74 (May 1989): 11-13.

Cook, Rufus. “Maintaining the Past: Cultural Continuity in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Work.” Tamkang Review, 25 (Fall 1994): 35-58.

Dasenbrock, Reed Way. “Intelligibility and Meaningfulness in Multicultural Literature in English.” PMLA, 102 (January 1987): 10-19. Discusses Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, along with R. K. Narayan’s The Painter of Signs (1976), Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima (1972), and Witi Ihimaera’s Tangi (1973), as texts that demonstrate both “implicit” as well as “explicit” multicultural features.

Deeney, John J. “Of Monkeys and Butterflies: Transformation in M. H. Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey and D. H. Hwang’s M. Butterfly,” MEWS, 18 (Winter 1993-1994): 21-39.

Donaldson, Mara E. “Woman as Hero in Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing and Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.” In Heroines of Popular Culture, edited by Pat Browne. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987.

Eakin, Paul John. Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. A relatively early discussion of Kingston’s innovative use of the autobiographical form within a generic context.

Fong, Bobby. “Maxine Hong Kingston’s Autobiographical Strategy in The Woman Warrior.” Biography, 12 (Spring 1989): 116-126.

Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Women’s Autobiographical Selves: Theory and Practice.” In The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women’s Autobiographical Writings, edited by Shari Benstock. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

Frye, Joanne S. “The Woman Warrior: Claiming Narrative Power, Recreating Female Selfhood.” In Faith of a (Woman) Writer, edited by Alice Kessler Harris and William McBrien. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Furth, Isabella. “Beee-e-een! Nation, Transformation, and the Hyphen of Ethnicity in Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey.” Modem Fiction Studies, 40 (Spring 1994): 33-49.

Hayes, Daniel. “Autobiography’s Secret.” A-B: Auto-Biography Studies, 1.2 (Fall 1997): 243-260.

Henke, Suzette A. “Women’s Life-Writing and the Minority Voice: Maya Angelou, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Alice Walker.” In Traditions, Voices, and Dreams: The American Novel since the 1960s, edited by Melvin J. Friedman and Ben Siegel. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995.

Hunt, Linda. “’I could not figure out what was my village’: Gender vs. Ethnicity in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.” MELUS, 12 (Fall 1985): 5-12. A discussion of the interplay between racial and gender issues.

Juhasz, Suzanne. “Maxine Hong Kingston: Narrative Technique and Female Identity.” In Contemporary American Women Writers: Narrative Strategies, edited by Catherine Rainwater and William J. Scheick. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985. Analysis of Kingston’s narrative technique in The Woman Warrior and China Men.

Lappas, Catherine. “The Way I Heard It Was . . .’: Myth, Memory, and Autobiography in Storyteller and The Woman Warrior.” CEA Critic, 57 (Fall 1994): 57-67. A comparative discussion of Kingston and the Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko.

Lee, Rachel. “Claiming Land, Claiming Voice, Claiming Canon: Institutionalized Challenges in Kingston’s China Men and The Woman Warrior.” In Reviewing Asian America: Locating Diversity, edited by Wendy L. Ng, Soo Young Chin, James S. Moy, and Gary Y. Okihiro. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1995.

Lee, Robert A. “Ethnic Renaissance: Rudolfo Anaya, Louise Erdrich, and Maxine Hong Kingston.” In The New American Writing: Essays on American Literature Since 1970, edited by Graham Clarke. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Li, David Leiwei. “China Men: Maxine Hong Kingston and the American Canon.” American Literary History, 2 (Fall 1990): 482-502.

Li. “The Naming of a Chinese American ’I’: Cross-Cultural Sign/ifications in The Woman Warrior.” Criticism, 30 (Fall 1988): 497-515.

Lidoff, Joan. “Autobiography in a Different Voice: Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.” A-B: Auto-Biography Studies, 3 (Fall 1987): 29-35.

Ling, Amy. “Maxine Hong Kingston and the Dialogic Dilemma of Asian American Writers.” Bucknell Review, 39 (1995): 151-166.

Ling. “Thematic Threads in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.” Tamkang Review, 14 (Autumn 1983 -Summer 1984): 155-164.

Linton, Patricia. “’What Stories the Wind Would Tell’: Representation and Appropriation in Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men.” MELUS, 19 (Winter 1994): 37-48.

Lowe, John. “Monkey Kings and Mojo: Postmodern Ethnic Humor in Kingston, Reed, and Vizenor.” MELUS, 21 (Winter 1996): 103-126.

Madsen, Deborah L. “(Dis)Figuration: The Body as Icon in the Writings of Maxine Hong Kingston.” Yearbook of English Studies, 24 (1994): 237-250.

Martinez, Sharon Suzuki. “Trickster Strategies: Challenging American Identity, Community, and Art in Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey.” In Reviewing Asian America.

Melchior, Bonnie. “A Marginal ’I’: The Autobiographical Self Deconstructed in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.” Biography, 17 (Summer 1994): 281-295.

Miller, Margaret. “Threads of Identity in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior” Biography, 6 (Winter 1983): 13-33.

Mitchell, Carol. “Talking Story’ in The Woman Warrior: An Analysis of the Use of Folklore.” Kentucky Folklore Record, 27 (January-June 1981): 5-12.

Morante, Linda. “From Silence to Song: The Triumph of Maxine Hong Kingston.” Frontiers, 9, no. 2 (1987): 78-82.

Neubauer, Carol E. “Developing Ties to the Past: Photography and Other Sources of Information in Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men.” MELUS, 10 (Winter 1983): 17-36.

Nishime, LeiLana. “Engendering Genre: Gender and Nationalism in China Men and The Woman Warrior.” MELUS, 20 (Spring 1995): 67-82.

Ordonez, Elizabeth J. “Narrative Texts by Ethnic Women: Rereading the Past, Reshaping the Future.” MELUS, 9 (Winter 1982): 19-28.

Outka, Paul. “Publish or Perish: Food, Hunger, and Self-Construction in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.” Contemporary Literature, 38 (Fall 1997): 447-482.

Rabine, Leslie W. “No Lost Paradise: Social Gender and Symbolic Gender in the Writings of Maxine Hong Kingston.” Signs, 12 (Spring 1987): 471-492. Uses French feminist theory to distinguish between gender as a system of social relations and gender as an effect of discourse and applies these ideas to Kingston’s representation of gender.

Rolf, Robert. “On Maxine Hong Kingston and The Woman Warrior.” Kyushu American Literature, 23 (May 1982): 1-10.

Rose, Shirley K. “Metaphors and Myths of Cross-Cultural Literacy: Autobiographical Narratives by Maxine Hong Kingston, Richard Rodriguez, and Malcolm X.” MELUS, 14 (Spring 1987): 3-15.

Sato, Gayle K. Fujita. “Ghosts as Chinese-American Constructs in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.” In Haunting the House of Fiction: Feminist Perspectives on Ghost Stories by American Women, edited by Lynette Carpenter and Wendy K. Kolmar. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991.

Schueller, Malini. “Questioning Race and Gender Definitions: Dialogic Subversions in The Woman Warrior.” Criticism, 31 (Fall 1989): 421-437.

Schueller. “Theorizing Ethnicity and Subjectivity: Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey and Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club.” Genders, 15 (Winter 1992): 72-85.

Shan, Te Hsing. “Law as Literature, Literature as Law: Articulating ‘The Laws’ in Maxine Hong Kinston’s China Men.” Tamkang Review, 26 (Autumn-Winter 1995): 235-264.

Shih, Shu Mei. “Exile and Intertextuality in Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men.” In The Literature of Emigration and Exile, edited by James Whitlark and Wendell Aycock. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1992.

Shostak, Debra. “Maxine Hong Kingston’s Fake Books.” In Memory, Narrative, and Identity: New Essays in Ethnic American Literatures, edited by Amritjit Singh, Joseph T. Skerrett Jr., and Robert E. Hogan. Boston: North-eastern University Press, 1994.

Skenazy Paul. “Replaying Time.” Enclitic, 11, no. 3 (1989): 36-42. A discussion of Tripmaster Monkey in which Skenazy points out that Kingston’s skill as a writer is sometimes obscured by the attention paid to her racial and gender themes.

Sledge, Linda Ching. “Oral Tradition in Kingston’s China Men.” In Redefining American Literary History, edited by A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff and Jerry W. Ward. New York: Modern Language Association, 1990.

Smith, Jeanne R. “Rethinking American Culture: Maxine Hong Kingston’s Cross-Cultural Tripmaster Monkey.” Modern Language Studies, 26 (Fall 1996): 71-81.

Tanner, James T. F. “Walt Whitman’s Presence in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book,” MELUS, 20 (Winter 1995): 61-74.

Wang, Alfred S. “Maxine Hong Kingston’s Reclaiming of America: The Birthright of the Chinese American Male.” South Dakota Review, 26 (Spring 1988): 18-29.

Wang, Jennie. “Tripmaster Monkey: King-ston’s Postmodern Representation of a New ’China Man.’” MELUS, 20 (Spring 1995): 101-114.

Wang, Veronica. “Reality and Fantasy: The Chinese-American Woman’s Quest for Identity.” MELUS, 12 (Fall 1985): 23-31.

Williams, A. Noelle. “Parody and Pacifist Transformations in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book.” MELUS, 20 (Spring 1995): 83-100.

Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia. “Necessity and Extravagance in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Art and the Ethnic Experience.” MELUS, 15 (Spring 1988): 4-26.

Woo, Deborah. “Maxine Hong Kingston: The Ethnic Writer and the Burden of Dual Authenticity.” Amerasia Journal, 16, no. 1 (1990): 173-200.

Wu, Qing Yun. “A Chinese Reader’s Response to Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men.” MELUS, 17 (Fall 1991): 85-94.

Yu, Ning. “A Strategy against Marginalization: The ’High’ and ’Low’ Cultures in Kingston’s China Men.” College Literature, 23 (October 1996): 73-87.


“Maxine Hong Kingston.” . This page, with text by Amy Ling, is found on the website of the publishing firm Houghton Mifflin. The page includes brief but useful entries on such topics as teaching strategies, themes in Kingston’s work, and questions for reading and discussion.

“Maxine Hong Kingston Teacher Resource Guide.” kingston.htm. A teacher resource guide from James Madison University; includes a Kingston biography and a series of lesson plans.

“Maxine Hong Kingston: Warrior Woman.” An organization called the Kingston Group has created this site, which explores gender and feminism issues, autobiography, and the interpretation and critical reception of the work of ethnic authors, especially Kingston.

“Voices from the Gaps.” This site is a useful resource for information about a large range of ethnic writers. The Kingston page includes a biography, a list of her publications, a selection of critical works, and links to other sites of relevance.


The Maxine Hong Kingston Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.