Maxine Hong Kingston receives the Pearl S. Buck Award from Randolph President Bradley W. Bateman
As part of a nearly year-long celebration of the 125th anniversary of its founding, Randolph College reintroduced the Pearl S. Buck Award at a special ceremony this spring. President Bradley W. Bateman presented the College’s sixth award to Maxine Hong Kingston, a nationally celebrated author.
“I cannot think of a better way to honor both our history as a woman’s college as well as women who have made a significant difference to the world,” Bateman said during the ceremony.
The Pearl S. Buck award is given to women who exemplify the ideals, values, and commitments of Buck, a member of the Class of 1914 and the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. The first award was presented in 1998. Since that time, it has been given to five other deserving women, including Corazon Aquino, Maya Lin, Mary Robinson, Jehan Sadat, and Sheikh Hasina.
Like Buck, Kingston has been a lifelong champion for peace and women’s rights. Her work is directly influenced by her mother’s childhood stories of China, as well as her own experiences as a first-generation Chinese American.
“I am very touched to be receiving an award that’s named Pearl Buck because so much of my work has been inspired by her,” Kingston said. “She was the pioneer who went ahead. Like her, I draw on the culture, language, ancestry, and traditions of China to create stories and art.”
Currently a lecturer emerita for creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley, Kingston is best known for writing The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, and its companion piece, China Men. The Woman Warrior won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976 for nonfiction, and China Men was awarded the 1980 American Book Award. In 2014, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. She has also received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature and the National Humanities Medal in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton.
“Women like Pearl S. Buck and Maxine Hong Kingston have used their literary talents to share stories of others—stories that have opened the eyes of the world to those of difficult cultures and backgrounds, stories that have helped us understand our history in order to better our future,” Bateman said.
“This year, Randolph is celebrating women like Pearl S. Buck and Maxine Hong Kingston as well as the thousands of others who have graduated from this great college and gone on to live the life more abundant and make a difference to the world.”