Maxine Hong Kingston

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Maxine Hong Kingston (2006)

Maxine Hong Kingston (October 27, 1940) is a Chinese American author and Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley.


  • When I was writing The Woman Warrior, I felt that I was writing something completely different; that nothing like it had ever been written. So I thought if I couldn’t get it published, I would just keep copies and it would really be okay if it was published after I die or if somebody discovered it 100 years from now, 1,000 years from now. I’m always thinking about people reading it someday — and that will be alright.
  • Remember when the narrator is bullying the other girl? She says to her, “Just say ‘ow.’ Just say anything, just make a sound.” I guess that’s the first step: make a sound. I think for everybody that just being able to speak up is a bravery, which they have to learn. But for a writer, it’s to be able to find a style and a rhythm and a structure to be able to tell a story. I think that is another way of finding voice, and it’s not that easy….
  • Writing is an act of nonviolence, but it’s very active, very aggressive, but you’re not setting off bombs or guns. Just using the pen. It’s like shouting and getting your voice heard and the range is worldwide. You might not be able to stop a war right now, but the words can go out and influence the atmosphere and the world, way into the future.
  • The poem begins: I am turning 65 years of age. And so I am thinking about how am I growing old. How am I becoming an elder? How am I becoming an elder? I would love to go back to China and be old because there we hear that older people are loved and appreciated. I can't grow old in America. America is a country for young people. So I can't grow old here. Should I go back to China and grow old there? So those are the questions that I'm asking…

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