Friday, May 10, 2013

13: The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston

"Normal Chinese women's voices are strong and bossy. We American-Chinese girls had to whisper to make ourselves American-feminine. Apparently we whispered even more softly than the Americans...."

"Girls are maggots on the rice..."
"It is more profitable to raise geese than daughters..."
"Feeding girls is feeding cowbirds..."
"When you raise a girl, you're raising children for strangers..."
"When fishing for treasures in the flood, be careful not to pull in girls..."

This is my second reading of this particular novel. The first time I read it, I just read it for pleasure; this time I read it for my Gender and Lit class and had to give an oral report on it the day before my comps. My presentation was so thorough my professor asked if the book was on my list - it wasn't. I have spent the last four weeks recovering from my comps, existing in a catatonic state where I don't want to do anything academic (which is really unfortunate because after my exam I still had five weeks of school left. Four weeks of reading theory, and one 15 page paper left. I still haven't written my paper, due Thursday, which is the only thing standing between me and my MA. Can't. Force. Myself. To. Do. It. Procrastinating. On. The. Internetz. Also. Have. Pink. Eye. And. The. Flu. Yay. Public. School. Teaching. So. Many. Germz. <-evidence that I am incapable of writing the last 10 pages of my paper). 

Anyhow, blah blah blah.

First of all, this book is for everyone. It's probably one of the most important Asian-American books out there (can anyone think of one more important?). If you are interested in women, Chinese culture, story telling, America, immigrants, mother-daughter relationships, or speaking English as a second language, then it's particularly interesting for you. The first time I read it, I remember feeling really satisfied when I finished, but I can't remember why. The second time I read it, I was really looking for something that I could present to the class because there is nothing more humiliating than having nothing interesting to say to a group of your grad school peers, and I decided to focus on voice and silencing. An excerpt from this book is commonly found in high school anthologies where the main character corners another Chinese-American girl in the bathroom and tries to bully her into speaking as the girl refuses to talk in all aspects of her life, so I decided to focus my readings on that knowing that that moment would be coming up near the end.

The book is a collection of five stories/essays (depending on if you're reading this as memoir or fiction) which read a little longer than your typical short stories. Almost all have to do with being a woman and the family's history in some way. Some are fantasy, some are rooted in reality, but all are interesting snapshots of one family's life from China to America and sometimes back again. 

I still claim that I am braindead, and thus the shortness of this review!

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