In 1976, while Kingston was teaching creative writing at the Mid-Pacific Institute, a private
school,she published her first book, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts.
One reviewer, Michael T. Malloy, described the book as having an exotic setting but dealing
with the same subjects as mainstream American feminist literature, specifically the "Me and
Mom" genre. Other reviewers were surprised by its fresh subject matter and style, and they sang
the praises of this poetic, fierce, delicate, original novel/memoir.Kingston strove for a Chinese
rhythm to her voice, a typical Chinese-American speech, and rich imagery; her first book was a
great success. In the end of Woman Warrior, her shy girl character finds resolution as she
breaks female silence and inherits an oral tradition that she carries on as a written tradition.
Kingston's second book, China Men, published in 1980, was a companion to Warrior Woman
and received more controversial reviews. The book, steeped in historic detail andset in early
California and Hawaii, details the male influences of her life and describes the lives of the men
in her family who came to America--"Gold Mountain. "China Men includes a chronological list
of discriminatory laws regarding Chinese immigrants and celebrates the strengths and
achievements of the first Chinese men in America as well as the exploitation and prejudice
they faced. Several sinologists complained that Kingston reconstructed myths that are only
remotely connected to original Chinese legends and that her pieces don't accurately portray
high culture.Kingston responded to this criticism by explaining that she is not trying to
represent Chinese culture, she is simply trying to portray her own experiences.
In 1987, Kingston published a collection of twelve prose selections, Hawaii One Summer. After
the success of her first books, she was financially able to give up teaching as an occupation
and continued to write, but she continued to teach on and off as avisiting professor in Hawaii,
Michigan, and California. In 1988, Trip master Monkey: His Fake Book, a picaresque novel set
in the San Francisco are during the 1960s, was published. The protagonist of this novel,
Wittman Ah Sing, is a fifth-generation Chinese-American, and like many of Kingston's
characters, he struggles to escape racism as he grows and questions the worldaround him.
Reviews of this novel again were mixed, but critics seem to havehad stronger reactions against
this book than against China Men.
Questions to Consider for Writing:
- What do you see as this author's main assertion? Is that message focused?
Demonstrate your answer by citing specific examples explaining how or
In what way these examples show what might be the author's purpose?
2. The author seems to find a relationship between silence, black paint, and curtains; using
specific examples from this paper, explain how you understand that relationship.
- The author mentions a mirror and an “outlaw knot-maker” and a "blind Criminal";
what do you understand the author to mean by these terms?
- What do you understand about the significance between the American and Chinese
schools? Explain your response.
- How aware does this author seem to be of herself as a writer? Of her audience?
Give specific examples from this essay to support your conclusions.