With the start of the Chinese New Year, we at the Press are focusing a few notable Chinese and Chinese-American authors, their accomplishments, and their contributions to the literary world.
Maxine Hong Kingston
Born and raised in Stockton, California, Kingston is a first-generation Chinese-American writer who has written critically-acclaimed novels, such as The Woman Warrior and its sequel, China Men, and has won numerous awards, including two National Book Critics Circle Awards. Her works incorporate her Chinese heritage and the forgotten historical struggles of Asian immigrants. She capitalizes on magical realism, often weaving traditional prose and magical Chinese myth into a single story. Kingston is still active in the writing community with her most recent success being in receiving the National Medal of Arts in 2013.
Shuo is a Chinese author, director, and cultural icon. With over twenty novels, television series, and movies in numerous languages, he has become a celebrated author both in China and internationally. His work focuses on a culturally-confused generation living during the Cultural Revolution in China. He worked around the rigid constraints set forth by Mao Zedong using biting satire and managed to have only one of his movies banned until 2004. His most notable works are Don’t Call Me Human and Playing for Thrills, and he will surely inspire the rebel in all of us.
Tan’s colorful background begins in Oakland, California where she lived with her father and brother. After their premature deaths, she moved to Switzerland to be with her mother and returned to the United States for college. Her most famous work, The Joy Luck Club, explores the relationship between Chinese mothers and their Chinese-American daughters and became one of the longest-running New York Times bestsellers. She has also dabbled in children’s books, producing The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, which was adapted in a popular PBS show, Sagwa.
Yan, born in Shandong Province, China, worked as a cattle herder from the tender age of 11. He eventually found his love for literature and writing when he enlisted in the army. At age 26, he published his first novel, Red Sorghum, which was adapted into a screenplay. His novels contained much criticism of Chinese society as well as the magical realism that is apparent in Chinese oral tradition. He went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012.
These writers, along with numerous others, have made valuable contributions to American and international literature. They wrote about the oppression they feel within their culture and an immigrant’s struggle to find their identity. These men and women are brave and revolutionary, and they will go down in history.