Acclaimed author Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior broke new ground when it was first published 35 years ago, weaving autobiography, history, folklore, and fantasy in to a candid and revelatory story about the daughter of Chinese immigrants in mid-20th century California.
Now in audio for the first time, The Woman Warrior is read by television and movie star Ming-Na (ER, Mulan) in a performance that captures the book’s amazing spectrum of hope, longing, fear, and strength.
Kingston, winner of the National Book Award and National Humanities Medal, beautifully mixes reality and fantasy in relating her experience growing up a stranger in America and an outsider to her family’s history in China. Thanks to the author’s unique storytelling style and voice, this book remains one of the most commonly taught college texts in America. Hear it performed here for the first time.
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston enchantingly swirls to life through actor Ming-Na’s spirited reading. A modern classic that was originally published in 1975, The Woman Warrior is perfectly suited for audio production as the author brilliantly cloaked her childhood memories and family history in the rich brocade of Chinese folklore and superstition. Reality and folk tales became interwoven as Kingston, the child of Chinese immigrants, simply had no other way to figure out the world except through stories told to her by her mother and Kingston’s own maturing awareness.
Ming-Na captures it all: the folklore ghosts, the family secret ghosts, and the ghosts who symbolized all that was new, confusing, and sometimes terrifying about life in America for Kingston’s parents. There is a deep well from which to draw: a story that the author created to honor an aunt whose name had never been spoken after she shamed the family in China, the sometimes comical but distressingly painful story of another aunt’s descent into mental illness after she simply could not transform from Chinese villager to Los Angeles-based American grandmother, and finally the piercing, heartbreaking tirade as teenaged Maxine unleashes a lifetime of pent-up confusion and anger at her Chinese mother. Through it all Ming-Na astounds and entertains and perfectly characterizes the author as she grows from a small child with a child’s sensibilities and impatience to the complex adult and gifted writer Kingston became.
The variety of characters in The Woman Warrior will have all who enjoy this selection certain that more than one performer is interpreting the book. Like the work itself, Ming-Na creates a wonderfully enjoyable illusion. Carole Chouinard
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