Maxine Hong Kingston

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Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese: 湯婷婷; born October 27, 1940) is a Chinese American author and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962. Kingston has written three novels and several works of non-fiction about the experiences of Chinese immigrants living in the United States. She has contributed to the feminist movement with such works as her memoir The Woman Warrior, which discusses gender and ethnicity and how these concepts affect the lives of women. Kingston has received several awards for her contributions to Chinese American Literature including the National Book Award in 1981 for her novel China Men.



Kingston was born in Stockton, California to first-generation Chinese immigrants, Tom and Ying Lan Hong. He was a laundry worker and gambling house owner and she was a practitioner of medicine. Kingston was the third of eight children and the eldest of the six children born in the United States. Her mother trained as a midwife at the To Keung School of Midwifery in Canton. Her father was brought up as a scholar and taught in his village of Sun Woi, near Canton. Tom left China for America in 1924. He was able to bring his wife over in 1939.

Kingston was drawn to writing at a young age and won a five-dollar prize from "Girl Scout Magazine" for an essay she wrote titled "I Am an American." She majored in engineering at Berkeley before switching to English. In 1962 Kingston married Earl Kingston, an actor, and began a high school teaching career. The two began a family the following year with the birth of their son Joseph Lawrence Chung Mei. After relocating to Hawaii in 1967 Maxine began writing extensively finally completing and publishing her first novel, The Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Girlhood among Ghosts. 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.

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