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The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood…

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1975)

by Maxine Hong Kingston (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,302391,651 (3.81)83
  1. 20
    The Ballad of Mulan by Song Nan Zhang (bertilak)
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    The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: The first widely read Asian American book written by a woman, blending memoir, fiction and legend.
  3. 00
    Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong (Imprinted)
  4. 00
    The Opposite of Fate: a book of musings by Amy Tan (cransell)
    cransell: Another memoir by a Chinese-American woman. Both are very good.

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Even though Frank Chin was highly critical of this book, it deserves a place in Asian American literature and the AA movement. Amy Tan though...not so much. ( )
  kchung_kaching | Sep 1, 2014 |
“The Woman Warrior” is haunted with ghosts: Mexican ghosts, Negro ghosts, white ghosts, janitor ghosts, teacher ghosts, and so on. I don’t mean this to be a paranormal or spiritual observation. Kingston uses the term so casually, we know what she is talking about – a ghost is almost anything or anyone outside of her Chinese-born family – but that still left me wanting a fuller explanation. We don’t get one. So, what is a ghost? It is something that, despite its seeming absence, leaves a trace of itself, a residue that can’t be erased. It’s a metaphor that runs throughout the entire book, and is extraordinarily apropos for a book that is, at its core, about the archetypical clash of two cultures.

I enjoyed the novel as a total reading experience – and I suppose there’s not a lot more you can ask from a book – but I felt because I wasn’t a Chinese woman, that I was missing something vitally important. I figured that most of the people who have probably enjoyed it haven’t been either of these things, so I tried to ignore how awkwardly self-conscious the book made me feel about my own identity, and trudged merrily on.

The book is about a lot of things – growing up in the United States with parents who were born in their native China; the difficulties one has living with parents who have yet to become properly acculturated even though you as a daughter are already intimately familiar with that culture; even what it means to be Chinese, and how the weight of Chinese history and civil mythology can weigh heavily on someone who hasn’t even set foot in that country. The book is composed of five vignettes or chapters, which don’t flow in a chronological way, but revolve around the same characters: Maxine, her mother, her female Chinese relatives she’s never met.

I can see how this would have been a punch to the literary establishment’s gut when it was published nearly forty years ago, on the coattails of “Fear of Flying” and a myriad of other works important to the feminist tradition. Not only does Kingston’s story recognize her womanhood and coming to terms with that in a particular time and place in the United States, she complicates matters by recognizing her Chinese heritage, which has very different ideas of what it means to be a good daughter, a feminine woman, and so on.

This has been sitting on my bookshelf staring at me for several years now, and I’m glad that I finally chose to read it. Is it something that I’m likely to ever read again? Probably not. It’s exactly the kind of book that college students across the humanistic disciplines – sociology, anthropology, cultural studies – should be exposed to: horizon-expanding and full of ideas to widen the minds of parochial university freshmen, i.e., kids that need the aforementioned culture clash. Once out of school, many people would never again admit to reading for self-edification. I’m not one of those, and self-edification was part of the reason I read this book. It’s just that every time I stop to think about it, I can’t help but think all over again of how self-conscious it made me of being a privileged white male. I know, I know. #FirstWorldProblems ( )
  kant1066 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Another annotation for Dr. Walling's class in library school. This was a really good read.

"A Chinese-American woman grapples with separate cultural textures embedded in her childhood. As she relates tales of her family's multi-generational roots in China and America, her resentment of Chinese stigmas imposed on women grows fiercer. In reaction, she sculpts her own set of mores, distilling ancient ways with modern enlightenment." ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Superb. ( )
  alienhard | Mar 26, 2014 |
The misunderstanding, angst of a young Chinese American girl. Her parents immigrated shortly before WWI, but strictly maintain their cultural rules of child rearing, until their older children start school and come home with 'new' ideas. The girl, the youngest of a large family is pulled between two cultures. She manages to adapt, by misleading her mother, presenting the face of a good Chinese maiden, but learning how to become a modern American woman. ( )
  siubhank | Sep 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kingston, Maxine HongAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Evenari, Gail K.Author photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lai, Chi-YeeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sann, JohnCover photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Mother and Father
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"You must not tell anyone," my mother said, "what I am about to tell you."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679721886, Paperback)

The Woman Warrior is a pungent, bitter, but beautifully written memoir of growing up Chinese American in Stockton, California. Maxine Hong Kingston (China Men) distills the dire lessons of her mother's mesmerizing "talk-story" tales of a China where girls are worthless, tradition is exalted and only a strong, wily woman can scratch her way upward. The author's America is a landscape of confounding white "ghosts"--the policeman ghost, the social worker ghost--with equally rigid, but very different rules. Like the woman warrior of the title, Kingston carries the crimes against her family carved into her back by her parents in testimony to and defiance of the pain.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity.

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