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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

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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What listeners say about The Woman Warrior

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really fantastic!

Well worth listening and re-listening to! I found the story held me captive and the voice transported me into the narrative.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Ming-Na makes this audio book

For me this book was insight to being a South East Asian immigrant before I was born. As an audio book I found it a bit tricky to follow - as I've only realised now that it's more like 5 short stories rather than a continous novel.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Yawn

It has literary value, no doubt. But. I purchased it for biography, and there is more fantasy than anything. I have nothing against fantasy, by all means, I love it, but not here. The writer could have written an amazing fantasy novel and another great true story about Chinese heritage, in two separate books. This just made me tired.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Horace
  • 28-08-11

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.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alyssa B. Goss
  • 23-01-11

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.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rebecca
  • 23-06-19

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.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for AWS
  • AWS
  • 02-09-19

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ashlei Kimbrell
  • 05-09-18

love it

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

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John B. Reigeluth
  • 12-06-22

Wonderful Story Telling

This is a wonderful story told with great insight and humor. It re-affirms the common experiences of all humans.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Janet L. Hamilton
  • 12-03-22

unlikable characters

the stories in here were interesting at times, but the interactions between the women were awful to listen to.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Keri Bannon
  • Keri Bannon
  • 05-09-21

Very uneventful

Quite literally nothing happens in this book. It’s also not told chronologically so it’s all over the place. The narrator just talks about literally nothing for hours, and it gets very boring.

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Profile Image for EC Moran
  • EC Moran
  • 03-05-21

Transportive & entertaining

I loved this story and the narrator’s expressiveness. My only complaint is that I hadn’t read/heard it much sooner. I think I would’ve made a difference to me as a daughter of Asian immigrants albeit my parents are from the Philippines which is an entirely different culture and experience and I’m of a later generation. This book feels fresh and as relevant today as it was back when it was first published.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew Miao
  • 21-05-20

Confusing Storyline

Hard to sort thru who’s who and between memory, fantasy and reality. Story of Moon Orchid is totally depressing. Maybe it was a true story but no redemptive value. Did the narrator grow from that memory? Hard to discern.