The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

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

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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3 Comments

  1. Crossing the Line The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston, captures readers with her own interpretation of what it was like to grow up as a female Chinese American. As a little girl, she came to America with her family. Despite being in a new country, she had to deal with the old traditions from her homeland. Kingston hears different legends which she pieces together to create her woman warrior. It becomes her source of strength in a society that rejected both her sex as well as her race. The book,…

  2. Challenging, rewarding read This is a remarkably intelligent, personal account of success, failure, frustration, and identity. No, the writing and structure are not straightforward, and yes, some of the plotline may be disturbing. But this is ultimately an intellectually rewarding read, and a personally emotionally moving experience. 

  3. The first of this genre I didn’t know beans about Chinese women when a friend put this book into my hands about 20+ years ago. Talk about a revelation. The Woman Warrior preceded Amy Tan’s novels by at least a decade and went on to win several awards. It’s about growing up Chinese American in California’s Central Valley, working in the family laundry, and having to listen to her mother’s stories that were designed to scare her into “good behavior.” Some of these “talk stories” depicted women as fierce and strong…

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