Maxine Hong Kingston: On Being Part of World Literature
And I am part of World Chinese literature. One can be an American writing in English, and the Chinese will still proudly claim her as their own.
My new book, "I Love a Broad Margin to My Life", is organized like a painting on a scroll. My journey to half a dozen villages in the countryside unfurls as I travel through the Pearl River Delta and along the Silk Road. I hope this book will be translated into Chinese so that the people I write about will be able to read it.
The last time I was in China, a scholar said to me, "It's too bad 'The Fifth Book of Peace' will not be published here." I asked him why, and he said: "You write about the Dalai Lama." But only in passing. Just a mention. I don't remember -- I'll have to check -- did I write about His Holiness in my new book, too?
I'm wondering whether I'll be able to get a visa to China again. I was just invited to a literature conference at Beijing Normal University. And I turned it down, saying that I would be there if Liu Xiaobo could be there too, speaking freely and reading his poetry. (Beijing Normal is Liu's alma mater.) Will my protest be grounds for denying me a visa?
There will be a symposium on my writing -- omnia opera -- at Mulhouse College in France, March 18-20. Scholars will be coming from all over the world, including China. I am part of world literature.
Harvill Secker's publication of "I Love a Broad Margin to My Life" will coincide with the Maxine Hong Kingston Symposium. What a celebration it will be.
Maxine Hong Kingston is the author or editor of 10 books, including the award-winning "Woman Warrior" and "Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace." She was awarded the 1997 National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton. To find out more about Maxine and her latest novel, "I Love a Broad Margin to My Life," read her blog on Red Room.