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Open Access Publications from the University of California

“Talk-Story: Counter-Memory in Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men.”


This article interprets Kingston's China Men as "historiographic metafiction"--a revisionist novel which counters traditional historiography with an alternative mode of telling and reimagines the past to make room for a different future. Kingston's "talk story" technique allows her, by inter­ weaving oral and literary traditions and a polyphonic multiplicity of narratives, to fracture and subvert both Chinese patriarchal and white American authority. Like Foucault's genealogy, talk-story · thus "fragments what was thought unified" by decentering, disseminating and interrogating authority. But Kingston embellishes historical data and received myths with imagined details; she mixes fact and fantasy to herald a world grounded in reciprocity rather than domination.

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