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International Comparative Literature

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Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior is one of the most successful Asian American literary works. Rather than reading the book as an autobiography of an Asian American girl growing up in Chinatown in America, I view it as a multifarious telling and writing of the stories of Asian American women in their interrelated relationships living in both the past and present in their hyphenated lives between China and America. With her palimpsestuous writing strategy, Kingston reexamines what it means to be an Asian American woman. She not only uncovers what is forbidden, hidden, unspoken, wronged, or covered in the “official” history of Asian Americans but also rewrites and reinvents it. Nevertheless, she does not intend to use her story to erase or replace the other versions. Instead, while writing herself and women like her into the history, she has various voices and versions complement and sometimes even contradict one another to form its reality. Furthermore, with her new genre of writing, she writes the dreams, fantasies, and imaginations of Asian American women into the history too. Thus, transgressing various boundaries, Kingston rewrites the history of Asian American women by representing the interaction of multiple voices and versions. In this way, Kingston not only makes herself a woman warrior but does so also for all women who contribute to the struggle.


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