Born in California to immigrant Chinese parents, Kingston was educated at the University of California at Berkeley. Kingston soared to literary celebrity upon the publication of her autobiographica The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1976). The Woman Warrior is dominated by Kingston's mother; her next work, China Men (1980), although not autobiographical in the manner of her previous book, is focused on her father and on the other men in her family, giving fictionalized, poetic versions of their histories. The combination of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and myth in both books create a form of balanced opposites that one critic has likened to yin and yang. Her first novel, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, was published in 1989.