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The Woman Warrior

Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts
Written by: Maxine Hong Kingston
Narrated by: Ming-Na
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Audible Editor Reviews

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston enchantingly swirls to life through actor Ming-Na’s spirited reading. A modern classic that was originally published in 1975, The Woman Warrior is perfectly suited for audio production as the author brilliantly cloaked her childhood memories and family history in the rich brocade of Chinese folklore and superstition. Reality and folk tales became interwoven as Kingston, the child of Chinese immigrants, simply had no other way to figure out the world except through stories told to her by her mother and Kingston’s own maturing awareness.

Ming-Na captures it all: the folklore ghosts, the family secret ghosts, and the ghosts who symbolized all that was new, confusing, and sometimes terrifying about life in America for Kingston’s parents. There is a deep well from which to draw: a story that the author created to honor an aunt whose name had never been spoken after she shamed the family in China, the sometimes comical but distressingly painful story of another aunt’s descent into mental illness after she simply could not transform from Chinese villager to Los Angeles-based American grandmother, and finally the piercing, heartbreaking tirade as teenaged Maxine unleashes a lifetime of pent-up confusion and anger at her Chinese mother. Through it all Ming-Na astounds and entertains and perfectly characterizes the author as she grows from a small child with a child’s sensibilities and impatience to the complex adult and gifted writer Kingston became.

The variety of characters in The Woman Warrior will have all who enjoy this selection certain that more than one performer is interpreting the book. Like the work itself, Ming-Na creates a wonderfully enjoyable illusion. —Carole Chouinard

Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed author Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior broke new ground when it was first published 35 years ago, weaving autobiography, history, folklore, and fantasy in to a candid and revelatory story about the daughter of Chinese immigrants in mid-20th century California.

Now in audio for the first time, The Woman Warrior is read by television and movie star Ming-Na (ER, Mulan) in a performance that captures the book’s amazing spectrum of hope, longing, fear, and strength.

Kingston, winner of the National Book Award and National Humanities Medal, beautifully mixes reality and fantasy in relating her experience growing up a stranger in America and an outsider to her family’s history in China. Thanks to the author’s unique storytelling style and voice, this book remains one of the most commonly taught college texts in America. Hear it performed here for the first time.

©1975, 1976 Maxine Hong Kingston (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kenneth
  • 2011-08-28

Hilariously Vicious; Touchingly Empathetic

This is a story about the collision of cultural across time. A generic 7th century culture collides with a generic 20th century culture.

Of course, time and place are interconnected. If the 20th century is the “American Century” then the 7th century (and maybe the 8th and 9th centuries as well) disserve(s) to be called the “Tang Century(s)”. So this is also about the collision of Chinese Village culture on the cusp of modernity and American culture near the maximum of its rate of ascendancy..

It seems to me like this book should be studied in literature classes as a quintessential example of the modern literacy style. It is a non-linearly collection of stories each of which plays with the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. It deliberately bends the distinction between autobiography and social commentary. It talks about ordinary people to make points about Great civilizations. It tells the most painful stories of desperation and betrayal as humor (although the humor is probably sharper if you are in fact Chinese). It toys with many of the other classical demarcations in literature (perhaps all of the classical demarcations) and yet manages to not feel (too much) like a teenager rebelling against tradition for the sake of rebellion. It is worth reading just to improve one's taste for high art.

It is dated. It’s usually different for Chinese born after Deng Xiaoping. But it’s a must read for understanding older Chinese women.

I have a ratings monetary policy problem. Too many of my ratings are 5 star, and too often, as in this case, I feel the need to give 6 stars. Perhaps I need to give more 4 star ratings so I save some room at the top.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Alyssa
  • 2011-01-23

Talking Story

This book doesn't follow any linear time line as a memoir might be expected to. It reads more like a series of vaguely related novellas. Most of the book doesn't even seem to be directly about the author, so much so that when she does begin to talk about her childhood at the end I found myself wondering where she thought she was going with it. This might not be the most anthropologically accurate picture of Chinese immigrants during the 50's or even of the author's own family, it's hard to tell, but it is interesting. The stories are entertaining and really that's the most important part.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 2019-06-23

Enchanting

Listening to this book I felt like I was under a spell. It so beautifully and seamlessly weaves through a story of her life and by the end you, along with the narrator, don’t know what’s real or not but somehow you know what’s true.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-05

Dreamer

A story so vividly describe it makes you travel in time and you see the Brave Orchid.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • jake
  • 2019-09-02

Couldn't plod through

I always want to finish everything I read, but this one will be shelved for a while, or forever, till I run out of options and have something like a gazillion-hour layover with nothing to do in an airport terminal. Sorry to say I was so disappointed especially after listening to great reviews. Oh well.

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  • Emily
  • 2019-04-18

Very well written and read

There was a variety of stories told. But the way it all flowed together and grew. It was hard not to be immersed in the stories told. The characters all very rich. There was a strong feminist feel, not in a bad way. But in the means that this is in the perspective of different women who had their own paths to go through. I loved it!

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  • Ashlei Kimbrell
  • 2018-09-05

love it

I loved this book. couldn't stop listening once I started. I would Definately listen again.

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  • Tracey
  • 2018-06-28

A Marvelous Tangle of Myth, Fantasy, and Life

A marvelous tangle of myth, fantasy, and life in the voice of a Chinese-American girl that keeps you turning page after page.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kennedy
  • 2017-04-16

Poetic Fable and Fiction

Really well done mixture of poetic fable and fiction. Might I add that the best fiction is informed by nonfiction? You get a lot of that here too. Readers new to Chinese history will be inspired to research the fantastic classic tales this book introduces and weaves in with modern narrative.

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  • GabsMtx
  • 2017-04-10

liked the "talk-stories"

i liked the talk stories, but struggled following the story of the narrator at times. I had a lot of unanswered questions at the end but I think so did the narrator, if you realize how her upbringing was in the novel.