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Kingston Shares New Work Fifth Book of Peace

Zareena Hussein--The Tech
Maxine Hong Kingston signs a Woman Warrior poster for Lei Wang '00 (left) as Amalia Miller '99 (center) looks on. Kingston read from her work-in-progress A Fifth Book of Peace on Monday evening in 10-250.

By Zareena Hussain
Staff Reporter

"Maxine Hong Kingston first and foremost tries to cultivate honesty and mindfulness in herself and in others. She takes responsibility for being a catalyst and a conduit for what is most true about human life," said Ruth Perry, professor of literature, as she introduced the famed writer to an eagerly awaiting audience in 10-250 Monday night.

The overall impression of those who attended the presentation was much the same.

"She's an amazing, amazing person," said Emily B. Cooper '99.

During an evening reading entitled "Another Book of Peace," Kingston, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and writer of the Woman Warrior and many other literary works, read excerpts from her work in progress, Fifth Book of Peace.

In addition to being a writer and professor, Kingston has sought through her writing to better understand the idea and practice of nonviolence. Monday night Kingston included a packed lecture hall in that personal quest.

Kingston speaks of destruction

One issue Kingston highlighted was destruction in war. In one excerpt she read, she compared the destruction to the aftermath of a fire, much like the wild fires in California. She used the destruction she could understand from the fire to understand the destruction in the Persian Gulf War and all wars.

Her description of the destruction was so powerful that one woman in the audience who had experienced the California wild fires around Berkeley herself felt compelled to personally thank Kingston during the question and answer session later in the evening.

"We were experiencing the writing process with her," said Alarice C. Huang '00.

As part of her visit to MIT, Kingston also visited two MIT classes, one in short fiction and the other in playwriting. She offered her advice to students about the writing process.

Students from high schools in the Boston area and suburbs were also invited to attend the reading.

The majority of people who attended the MIT-sponsored event were not actually MITstudents. "MITstudents don't come out for things," Perry said.

"MITstudents need to be exposed to artists and arts and to understand the power of the imagination," she said.

"Another Book of Peace" was brought to MITby a number of groups, including the Program in Women's Studies, the Office of the Arts, the Office of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, theliterature section of the Department of Humanities, the foreign languages and literatures section of the Department of Humanities, and the Theater Arts Program.