A Poem Turned into a Sword
The Woman Warrior was my book. I say this not to avoid accusations of parti pris – after all, everybody who writes about a book for Slightly Foxed can by definition be accused of that – but simply to make clear where I come from. In the winter of 1975 an agent sent the manuscript to Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in New York, where I was a senior editor. It ended up in my hands, because I was supposed to be the house China expert. (I had picked up some Mandarin when I was in the army.) I remember reading it in a bleak, smoke-filled room in the Criminal Court Building on Centre Street while waiting for jury duty, and being stunned. I had never read anything like it before. I convinced my boss to take it on for publication.