Today we honor and celebrate a noted author who weaves together feminism, racial identity, and history, Maxine Hong Kingston. She was born in California in 1940 to Chinese immigrants. She was successful in school and attended UC Berkeley where she switched from an initial major in engineering to get a degree in English. After graduation, she taught high school, married, and began her family. She did some writing, which she began to pursue in earnest when the family moved to Hawaii in the late 60s.
Her works draw heavily on her Chinese heritage and feminist themes, liberally blending fiction and non-fiction. Her first major work was The Woman Warrior (1976)(a must read!), a perfect example of her literary strength which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. A companion book, China Men, was published in 1981 and won the National Book Award. Throughout her career she has won numerous other awards including an NEA Writers Award and the National Humanities Medal.
Kingston dedicates her life as well as her craft to social justice. She is a dedicated worker for peace and anti-war activist. She has participated in (and been arrested at) numerous anti-war demonstrations. She also understands the role of poverty in the intersections of oppression:
Hunger also changes the world—when eating can’t be a habit, than neither can seeing.
This amazing woman has dedicated her life to telling stories that merge the personal and the universal. Learn more about her life and work at the Voices From the Gaps project.