Maxine Hong Kingston
Born: October 27, 1940
Birthplace: Stockton, Califonia
The eldest of six children, Kingston is recognized for her epic novels that detail the experiences of first-generation Chinese Americans. She graduated from the University of Califonia, Berkeley, and soon after became a high school teacher, holding a series of teaching jobs for the next ten years. Her most recognized work is also her first published, Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976), and received the National Book Critic's Circle Award for nonfiction. Woman Warrior combines Chinese folk stories, myth, and her family's experience as immigrants in the United States. Her second book, China Men (1980), expanded upon Woman Warrior and was awarded the American Book Award in nonfiction. China Men reveals the work experiences and discrimination faced by the men in her family. Kingston's third book, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1989), describes the experiences of Wittman Ah Sing (after Walt Whitman), an Asian American hippie in the 1960s. The book pays homage to Joyce's Ulysses in its post-modern structure and description of the narrator's unique odyssey. She revisits Wittman Ah Sing in her 2003 novel, The Fifth Book of Peace. Kingston and Amy Tan were leaders in bringing Asian American literature to the attention of the public.