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Lions Roar : January 2005
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2005 61 MAXINE HONG KINGSTON’S The Woman Warrior (1976) is certainly one of the four or five most influential books in postwar American writing. In a creative, genre-bending form, it achieves three kinds of liberation at once: women’s liberation, Asian-American imaginative empowerment, and the insistence that personal utterance has a rightful place in the open world. Kingston’s stream of literary liberation also includes China Men (1980), Tripmaster Monkey (1989), Hawai’i One Summer (1998), To Be the Poet (2002) and her most recent book, The Fifth Book of Peace (2003). These books are all part of a continuous “talk-story,” mixing fact and fiction, and they share an enchanting, spritely voice in which Kingston plays amongst delight and devastation, bringing readers along the abyss but not stopping before locating a true place of rest. Maxine Hong Kingston was born in 1940 to immigrant parents, Tom Hong and Ying Lan (Chew) Hong, and was raised in Stockton, California. In 1962 Maxine Hong graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and married actor Earll Kingston. Over the next five years she gave birth to a son, earned a teaching certificate and began to teach high school, and moved with her young family to Hawaí’i. Now That I Am Old and Have the Wordsfor It The renowned novelist MAXINE HONG KINGSTON talksfor thefirst time about the place of Buddhism in her work and life, and about something more elusive she calls simply “the Chinese religion.” PHOTOBYERIDRISBERG/APWORLDWIDE