Maxine Hong Kingston 1940–
Chinese-American autobiographer, journalist, and short story writer. Kingston is best known for her 1976 autobiography, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts, which won the general nonfiction award from the National Book Critics Circle. Born to parents who were Chinese immigrants, she grew up experiencing the often painful results of the radical clashes between American and Chinese cultures. Her mother, who was a strong influence on Kingston, wanted her to remain essentially Chinese and instilled in her the superstitions, traditions, and customs of her native country. Many of her stories revolved around the legendary figure of Fa Mu Lan, the woman warrior, whose exploits were in sharp contrast to the traditionally subservient role of the Chinese woman. Fa Mu Lan captured Kingston's imagination, figuring prominently in her childhood fantasies and later in her autobiography. The Woman Warrior is the chronicle of Kingston's confrontation with her dual heritage. She is presently writing further stories of Chinese legend and heroes.
[Rarely does East meet West with such charming results as occur in "The Woman Warrior", a] reminiscence of growing up in a Chinese-American culture where Oriental myth and Occidental reality somehow blended. American-born Maxine Kingston begins by exploring her girlhood dream—nourished by the folklore brought to this country by her mother, Brave Orchid—of becoming Fa Mu Lan, the Woman Warrior of Chinese myth. At the same time, she lives among Americans whom her mother terms "ghosts."… Along with the quirky humor are … myths as rich and varied as Chinese brocade; these are described in prose that often achieves the delicacy and precision of porcelain. An unusual and rewarding book for a specially attuned readership. (p. 72)
Publishers Weekly (reprinted from the August 9, 1976, issue of Publishers Weekly by permission, published by R. R. Bowker Company, a Xerox company; copyright © 1976 by Xerox Corporation), August 9, 1976.