Maxine Hong Kingston’s One Last Big Idea

Hua Hsu at The New Yorker:

The idea for publishing a novel posthumously came to Kingston after learning of Mark Twain’s autobiography, which wasn’t released in uncensored form until 2010, a hundred years after his death. If Kingston knew that she wouldn’t have to answer for her work, perhaps she would be able to write more freely. At first, her notes represented an attempt to capture each day’s “intensity,” she said. In time, she realized that she had written about twelve hundred single-spaced pages. She continued writing. She told her agent, Sandy Dijkstra, that the book would remain unpublished for a hundred years. “I was stunned, shocked, and more,” Dijkstra said in an e-mail, “and told her that I could not promise to be a living and functioning agent a century from now.” Kingston has not shown her any of it. “Maybe you can persuade Maxine to show it to us much sooner,” she said. “Magical thinking works on the page, but not so well in real life.”

more here.