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The Rise of the Memoir$
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Alex Zwerdling

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755784.001.0001

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Imagining the Facts in Kingston’s Memoirs

Imagining the Facts in Kingston’s Memoirs

(p.185) 7 Imagining the Facts in Kingston’s Memoirs
The Rise of the Memoir

Alex Zwerdling

Oxford University Press

Maxine Hong Kingston conceived her innovative twin memoirs, The Woman Warrior and China Men, as a new form of autobiography that mixes “the facts” of her family’s lives and of the historical record with the fictional world of “dreams and visions and prayers” they carry with them from China to America. The two books are fragmented by design, riven by the gulf of gender that produced radically different life experiences among men and women, husbands and wives, Chinese parents and their American children. Kingston appropriates the form’s characteristic openness and inconclusiveness to cross and re-cross the border separating the traditional territories of fiction and autobiography, deliberately risking the reader’s bewilderment by declining to become the village explainer.

Keywords:   Chinese American, gender, fact, imagination, talk story

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