...During the first silent year I spoke to no one at school, did not ask before going to the lavatory, and flunked kindergarten. My sister also said nothing for three years, silent in the playground and silent at lunch. There were other quiet Chinese girls not of our family, but most of them got over it sooner than we did. I enjoyed the silence. At first it did not occur to me I was supposed to talk or to pass kindergarten…It was when I found out I had to talk that school became a misery, that the silence became a misery....
Chinese American memoirist and novelist. Born in Stockton, California, to a Chinese immigrant family, Kingston grew up in a culture in which English was a second language; friends and relatives regularly gathered at her family's laundry to tell stories in Chinese and reminisce about their native country. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Kingston taught school in California and Hawaii and began publishing poetry, stories, and articles in magazines such as the New Yorker, New West, Ms., and the New York Times Magazine. Her best-known works, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1973) and the National Book Award– winning China Men (1980), artfully combine memoir, family legends, and fiction. She has also published a novel, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1989). Kingston is a professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley. See also uncp.edu.