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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

16. The Search For Identity

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Activities: Author Activities

Maxine Hong Kingston - Selected Archive Items

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[6166] Anonymous, Police and Detectives Guarding Chinatown, July 6, 1909 (1909),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-69697].
Writing at the turn of the twentieth century, Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton) made efforts to combat stereotypes of Chinese immigrants as "heathen," "unclean," and "untrustworthy." She provided insight into the unique culture of America's Chinatowns.

[6170] Anonymous, Chinese New Year (1909),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-120168].
Chinese immigrants brought their traditions and customs to America, where they established strong communities to provide support in an unfamiliar world. Maxine Hong Kingston offers personal and deeply reflective portraits of how Chinese immigrants' experiences, from the mid-nineteenth century through the present, have affected their sense of American identity.

[6171] Arnold Genthe, Children Were the Pride, Joy, Beauty, and Chief Delight of the Quarter, Chinatown, San Francisco (c. 1896-1906),
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZC4-5265].
Four children in traditional Chinese clothing on a sidewalk in San Francisco's Chinatown. Writing about the time this photograph was taken, Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton) sought to make the lives of Chinese immigrants understandable to white audiences.

[6501] Marc Cohen, Cover: The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston (1989),
courtesy of Vintage International.
Maxine Hong Kingston published her first novel, The Woman Warrior, in 1976. Kingston was born in California to Chinese parents and grew up speaking Say Yup, a Cantonese dialect. Her prose is infused with Chinese rhythms and Chinese American speech.

[7437] Eric Risberg, Author Maxine Hong Kingston (2001),
courtesy of the Associated Press.
"We approach the truth with metaphors."--Kingston, from "An Imagined Life." Kingston draws much of the inspiration for her writing from the stories her mother told her as a child, which kept Chinese tradition alive for her.

[8183] Anonymous, The Voyage, No. 8 (c. 1920), reprinted in Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940,
courtesy of the University of Washington Press.
"How has anyone to know that my dwelling place would be a prison?" asks this poem, one of many written on the walls of the Angel Island detention center by Chinese immigrants who were held there for extended periods by U.S. authorities. Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men focuses on the stories of early Chinese American immigrants.

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