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Book Title: The Woman Warrior|
The author of the book: Maxine Hong Kingston
Edition: Vintage Books USA
The size of the: 8.11 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: June 1st 2000
ISBN 13: 9780072435191
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 1523 times
Reader ratings: 5.4
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This was an intense book full of both women's power and violence against women set against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution and the emigration of many Chinese people fleeing Mao to California. It is a mixture of autobiography and folklore and is beautifully written. Maxine Hong Kingston received the National Book Award for this book in 1977 and remains a feminist activist.
The book itself talks of the China of her parents (she was born in the US after her father emigrated in 1940) using the voice of her mother and herself as well as a mystical woman warrior. It is highly poetic at times such as when Maxine's grandmother (still in China) sends her sweet tastes telepathically, "How large the world must be to make my grandmother only a taste by the time she reaches me." p.99
The concept of identity pervades this work as Maxine's family is essentially country-less - the family in China is nearly wiped out by the revolution and their remaining property ceded to distant uncles that are still there and they fell isolated in the US surrounded by "ghosts" as they describe the white people around them. "I could not understand 'I'. The Chinese 'I' has seven strokes, intricacies. How could the American 'I', assuredly wearing a hat like the Chinese, have only three strokes, the middle so straight?" p. 166
My favorite part was the second chapter "White Tigers" where she describes a great woman warrior is trained in combat from the age of 7 to 22 by two old peasants and goes on to lead a peasant army. It is highly inspirational to see such a strong female character. And when this is contrasted to the "No Name Woman" in chapter 1, one can understand why strong female role models and fables were so important to Maxine's self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
I have visited China many times, but primarily the metropolises and my contacts with Chinese people have not been very deep. I was reminded of this by the scene in the last chapter "A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe" where Maxine is unable to get a word out of another girl who pretends to be mute except when she is reciting texts in class. I suppose that the cumulated suffering destroys one's voice as one feels powerless that even speech is too difficult. I did have one encounter years ago when I had dinner in Taiwan with a Chinese colleague whose family had fled with Chang Kai-Shek to Taiwan following Mao's victory in the Chinese Civil War. He tearfully described to me how his parents who were university professors had destroyed their fingers and backs digging trenches bare-handed during the Cultural Revolution. It was the rare moment when a Chinese person opened up to me about his suffering. And yet, that also bears some ambiguity because as bad was the Cultural Revolution was, before that, Mao had banned foot-binding (described several times in The Woman Warrior): "Nobody wrote to tell us that Mao himself had been matched to an older girl when he was a child and that he was freeing women from prisons, where they had been put for refusing the businessmen their parents had picked as husbands. Nobody told us that the Revolution (the Liberation) was against girl slavery and girl infanticide (a village-wide party if it's a boy). Girls would no longer have to kill themselves rathe than get married. May the Communists light up the house on a girl's birthday." p. 191. So as everything in history, there are great ambiguities surrounding Mao. This reminds me of the condemnation of Castro for his imprisoning of land-owners and homosexuals (all true) but the relative ignorance of the improvements in education and medicine (the best teams of doctors in any international crisis are bound to have a Cuban or more in them.) Such is life I suppose.
The Warrior Woman is a provocative and challenging voyage into Maxine Hong Kingston's life and dreams as a Chinese woman and remains a great piece of literature 40 years later.
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Read information about the authorShe was born as Maxine Ting Ting Hong to a laundry house owner in Stockton, California. She was the third of eight children, and the first among them born in the United States. Her mother trained as a midwife at the To Keung School of Midwifery in Canton. Her father had been brought up a scholar and taught in his village of Sun Woi, near Canton. Tom left China for America in 1924 and took a job in a laundry.
Her works often reflect on her cultural heritage and blend fiction with non-fiction. Among her works are The Woman Warrior (1976), awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, and China Men (1980), which was awarded the 1981 National Book Award. She has written one novel, Tripmaster Monkey, a story depicting a character based on the mythical Chinese character Sun Wu Kong. Her most recent books are To Be The Poet and The Fifth Book of Peace.
She was awarded the 1997 National Humanities Medal by President of the United States Bill Clinton. Kingston was a member of the committee to choose the design for the California commemorative quarter. She was arrested in March 2003 in Washington, D.C., for crossing a police line during a protest against the war in Iraq. In April, 2007, Hong Kingston was awarded the Northern California Book Award Special Award in Publishing for her most recent novel Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (2006), edited by Maxine Hong Kingston.
She married actor Earl Kingston in 1962 (IMDb bio); they have had one child, Joseph Lawrence Chung Mei, born in 1964. They now live in Oakland.
Kingston was honored as a 175th Speaker Series writer at Emma Willard School in September 2005.
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