The Woman Warrior
Maxine Hong Kingston
FTC: I also bought this one. You should give me an award for stimulating the economy.
I’m pretty much speechless. So I’m going to steal the description from Wikipedia:
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts is a memoir by Maxine Hong Kingston, published by Vintage Books in 1975. Although there are many scholarly debates surrounding the official genre classification of the book, it can best be described as a work of creative non-fiction.
Throughout the five chapters of The Woman Warrior, Kingston blends autobiography with old Chinese folktales. What results is a complex portrayal of the 20th Century experiences of Chinese-Americans living in the U.S in the shadow of the Chinese Revolution.
The Woman Warrior has been reported by the Modern Language Association as the most commonly taught text in modern university education. It has been used in disciplines as far reaching as American literature, anthropology, Asian studies, composition, education, psychology, sociology, and women’s studies. In addition, it has also won the National Book Critics Circle Award and has been named one of Time Magazine’s top nonfiction books of the 1970s.
Back to me being speechless. Unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a good way. This book baffles me, totally and completely. Not so much the interweaving of the folktales (although it was a little confusing at first), but the style. I found her writing choppy and disjointed. One minute we’re in the folktale, then whammo, there’s a random observation, then Kingston relates an episode from her childhood. Except it doesn’t flow…it’s as if the random observations are non sequiturs, and by the end I was totally frustrated.
However, despite my frustrations with this one, it does work for the Women Unbound Reading Challenge. There is plenty of information contrasting the roles of women in traditional Chinese society with Kingston’s determination to break free of her mother’s traditional expectations. Then there is her mother, who despite her Chinese medical degree conforms to traditional beliefs about daughters being less worthy than sons. Finally, Kingston’s interpretation of Chinese folktales can be pretty kick-ass.