Maxine Hong Kingston

National Humanities Medal


Maxine Hong Kingston chronicles the lives of Chinese Americans facing the ghosts of the past in present-day America. Her books have been critically acclaimed as she "blends myth, legend, history, and autobiography into a genre of her own invention," as one critic wrote. Through her writings Kingston has illuminated the lives of Chinese Americans in this country and their link to their ancestors. In doing so, she has taught her readers much about the struggles of Chinese immigrants.

A former high school English teacher, Kingston is currently a senior lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. Her 1976 book,The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts, won the National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction and was named one of the top ten nonfiction works of the decade by Time magazine. Its companion book, China Men, published in 1980, received the American Book Award and was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. Her most recent work, a novel, is Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, published in 1990.

Kingston frequently contributes stories and articles to magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, and American Heritage.

By Maggie Riechers

About the National Humanities Medal

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects. Up to 12 medals can be awarded each year.