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Maxine Hong Kingston, The Warrior Woman

In 1976, following the eve on which Maxine Hong Kingston was recognized by the National Books Critics Circle for her memoir, The Warrior Woman, the author discussed her work with Charles Ruas. The award winning book was the subject of much of their conversation, finding relevance in not just the Chinese American experience, but notable for its perspective on gender and global politics.

Hong Kingston explains how the book's title is a reference to Chinese mythology, channeling the idea that in martial arts, the woman's body alone can be perfected. She reveals her interest in examining this and similar paradoxes, as well as exploring madness within her work. She likens the paradoxical tendencies of madness to practices exercised by writers. In some cases, these instances are more explicit. For example, one of her "mad" characters finds the need to describe mundane occurrences. She also explains how she endeavored to give greater weight to a woman's sexuality, almost romanticizing it, within the context of a "warrior" woman. The program concludes with the writer reading from the memoir.

Novelist Maxine Hong Kingston (b. 1940) is known for her texts on the Chinese American experience and contributions to the feminist movement. She is Professor Emerita at the University of California Berkley. Hong Kingston remains active as both a writer and in political demonstrations. She has been the recipient of countless awards, both by the National Book Critics Circle and with National Medals from both Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. Her body of published works includes: The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1976), China Men (1980), Through the Black Curtain (1987), To Be the Poet (2002), The Fifth Book of Peace (2003), and I Love a Broad Margin to My Life (2011).


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


An unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas, and featuring Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others.