HomeChinese AmericanAmy Tan & Maxine Hong Kingston: The start of a friendship

Amy Tan & Maxine Hong Kingston: The start of a friendship

By Ellen Lee and Emily Tan, AARP The Magazine

In 1979,Amy Tan’s roommate gave her a copy of The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston’s groundbreaking memoir of her experiences as a daughter of parents who had emigrated from China.

“I didn’t think of myself as a writer at the time,” recalls Tan, 69, a child of Chinese immigrants herself. “I didn’t start writing for another four years, but I remember reading the book and loving it.

The Woman Warrior gave me the idea that, yes, Asian Americans can write stories, and they don’t have to be stories about White people.”

Tan published The Joy Luck Club in 1989; it was the first of her six (and counting) best-selling novels. Shortly after the book was released, she went to one of Kingston’s readings, introduced herself and received a warm welcome.

“The first thing Maxine did was hug me and say, ‘We’re sisters,’ ”Tan remembers. The writers stayed in touch and quickly bonded, jokingly sharing anecdotes about people confusing one for the other in public.

When Kingston, 80, started her…

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Amy Tan photo from Wikimedia Creative Commons by David Sifry

Maxine Hong Kingston photo from Wikimedia Creative Commons by David Shankbone

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