Maxine Hong Kingston is an award-winning author and poet noted for her novels and non-fiction concerning the Chinese American experience. Her work blends her cultural heritage, folklore, fiction, and non-fiction, often commenting on gender, ethnicity, and oppression. Born in 1940 in Stockton, California, Kingston was drawn to writing at a young age. This led her to study English UC Berkeley. She published her first book in 1976; The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of TIME magazine’s top nonfiction books of the 1970s. Its sequel, China Men, examined the stories of the men in Kingston’s family and won the National Book Award in 1981.
One of the leading Chinese American writers of our times, Kingston has simultaneously been criticized for reinforcing racist and gendered stereotypes in her work or revising Chinese tradition in order to appeal to white American readers. Kingston was awarded the 1997 National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton and the 2014 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. She is a Professor Emerita in Creative Writing at her alma mater, UC Berkeley.