Maxine Hong Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston
Born Maxine Ting Ting Hong
October 27, 1940 (1940-10-27) (age 71)
Stockton, California
Occupation novelist
Nationality USA
Notable work(s) The Woman Warrior, Tripmaster Monkey,"China Men"
Notable award(s) National Book Critics Circle Award
National Book Award
National Humanities Medal
Spouse(s) Earll Kingston
Children Joseph Lawrence Chung Mei

Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese: 湯亭亭; 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.

A documentary produced by Gayle K. Yamada, Maxine Hong Kingston: Talking Story, was released in 1990. Featuring notable Asian American authors such as Amy Tan and David Henry Hwang, it explored Kingston's life, paying particular attention to her commentary on cultural heritage and both sexual and racial oppression. The production was awarded the CINE Golden Eagle in 1990.[1] Kingston also participated in the production of Bill Moyers' PBS historical documentary, Becoming American: The Chinese Experience.

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 Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (2006), an anthology which she edited.

Kingston was arrested on International Women's Day (March 8) of 2003. Participating in an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. coordinated by women-initiated organization Code Pink, Kingston refused to leave the street after being instructed to do so by local police forces. She shared a jail cell with author Alice Walker; renowned writer Terry Tempest Williams was also a participant in the demonstration. Kingston's anti-war stance has significantly trickled into her work; she has stated that writing The Fifth Book of Peace was initiated and inspired by growing up during World War II.

Kingston was honored as a 175th Speaker Series writer at Emma Willard School in September 2005.


In an interview published in American Literary History, Kingston disclosed her admiration for Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, and William Carlos Williams, who were inspirational influences for her work, shaping her analysis of gender studies. Kingston said of Walt Whitman's work,

"I like the rhythm of his language and the freedom and the wildness of it. It's so American. And also his vision of a new kind of human being that was going to be formed in this country—although he never specifically said Chinese—ethnic Chinese also—I'd like to think he meant all kinds of people. And also I love that throughout Leaves of Grass he always says 'men and women,' 'male and female.' He's so different from other writers of his time, and even of this time. Even a hundred years ago he included women and he always used [those phrases], 'men and women,' 'male and female.'"[2]

Kingston named the main character of Tripmaster Monkey, Wittman Ah Sing, after Walt Whitman. Of Woolf, Kingston stated:

"I found that whenever I come to a low point in my life or in my work, when I read Virginia Woolf's Orlando, that always seems to get my life force moving again. I just love the way she can make one character live for four hundred years, and that Orlando can be a man. Orlando can be a woman. Virginia broke through constraints of time, of gender, of culture."[2]

Similarly, Kingston's praise of William Carlos Williams expresses her appreciation of his seemingly genderless work:

"I love In the American Grain because it does the same thing. Abraham Lincoln is a 'mother' of our country. He talks about this wonderful woman walking through the battlefields with her beard and shawl. I find that so freeing, that we don't have to be constrained to being just one ethnic group or one gender-- both [Woolf and Williams] make me feel that I can now write as a man, I can write as a black person, as a white person; I don't have to be restricted by time and physicality."[2]

Criticism and Debate

Though Kingston's work is highly acclaimed, it has also received criticism, especially from some members of the Chinese American community. American playwright and novelist Frank Chin has severely criticized Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, claiming that she had tainted the purity of Chinese tradition in reinterpreting stories and myths. Chin has accused Kingston of "liberally adapting [traditional stories] to collude with white racist stereotypes and to invent a 'fake' Chinese-American culture that is more palatable to the mainstream."[3] Kingston commented on her critics' opinions in a 1990 interview in which she stated that men believe that minority women writers have "achieved success by collaborating with the white racist establishment," by "pander[ing] to the white taste for feminist writing... It's a one-sided argument because the women don't answer. We let them say those things because we don't want to be divisive."[4]


  • General Nonfiction Award: National Book Critics Circle for The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, 1976
  • Anisfield-Wolf Race Relations Award, 1978
  • National Endowment for the Arts Writers Award, 1980
  • National Book Award for General Nonfiction for China Men, 1981
  • National Endowment for the Arts Writers Award, 1982
  • PEN West Award in fiction for Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, 1989
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asian American Literary Awards, 2006
  • Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters: National Book Foundation, 2008

Selected works


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Maxine Hong Kingston — in New York City im September 2006. Maxine Hong Kingston (chinesisch: 湯婷婷, Tāng Tíng Tíng; * 27. Oktober 1940 in Stockton, Kalifornien) ist eine chinesisch US amerikanische Schriftstellerin und emeritierte Professorin (Literaturwissenschaftlerin) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Maxine Hong Kingston — (en chino: 汤婷婷, nacida el 27 de octubre de 1940) es una novelista estadounidense de origen chino, autora y profesora emérita de la universidad de California en Berkeley, donde se graduó con una BA en inglés en 1962. Kingston ha escrito tres… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kingston,Maxine Hong — Kingston, Maxine Hong. Born 1940. American writer noted for incorporating her Chinese American background into her writings. Her best known works include The Woman Warrior (1976) and China Men (1980). * * * …   Universalium

  • Kingston, Maxine Hong — orig. Maxine Hong born Oct. 27, 1940, Stockton, Calif., U.S. U.S. writer. Born to an immigrant family, she examined the myths, realities, and cultural identities of Chinese and American families and the role of women in Chinese culture in her… …   Universalium

  • Kingston, Maxine Hong — orig. Maxine Hong (n. 27 oct. 1940, Stockton, Cal., EE.UU.). Escritora estadounidense. Nacida en el seno de una familia de inmigrantes, Kingston examinó los mitos, realidades e identidades culturales de familias estadounidenses y chinas, y el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Maxine — ist der Name folgender Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Maxine (Alabama) Maxine (Kentucky) Maxine (West Virginia) Maxine ist der Vorname folgender Personen: Maxine Bahns (* 1971), amerikanische Schauspielerin Maxine Brown (* 1932), amerikanische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Maxine — is a feminine given name which may refer to: People Maxine Waters Maxine Hong Kingston Maxine Kumin Maxine Sullivan Maxine Nightingale Maxine Peake Maxine McKew Maxine Audley Karlee Pérez, a professional wrestler who competes for World Wrestling… …   Wikipedia

  • Kingston — is widely accepted as a contraction of the English King s Town , of which there are many examples. It may refer to:PlacesAustralia*Kingston, Australian Capital Territory, suburb of Canberra *Kingston, Norfolk Island, capital of the territory… …   Wikipedia

  • Kingston — ist der Name folgender Städte in Australien: Kingston (Tasmanien) Kingston City, Melbourne Kingston on Murray, South Australia Kingston SE, South Australia (im Unterschied zu Kingston on Murray) Kingston (Norfolkinsel) Kingston ist der Name… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hong — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Hồng Hà (Journalist) (1928–2011), vietnamesischer Journalist Hong Hyun mok (* 1986), südkoreanischer Eishockeyspieler Hong Ji hoon (* 1988), südkoreanischer Badmintonspieler Hong Myung bo (* 1969),… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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