Obama Wants Malia To Read Asian American Feminist Literature

In true Obama fashion, the president — a noted book lover — sat down with the New York Times last week to discuss what books mean to him.

Obama has reportedly given Malia, his 18-year-old daughter who will soon be off to college, a list of recommended books on a Kindle. Among them, as he told the outlet, is “The Woman Warrior,” a contemporary feminist and multicultural classic by Chinese American writer Maxine Hong Kingston.

“Part of what was interesting was me pulling back books that I thought were really powerful, but that might not surface when [Malia] goes to college,” Obama said.

He added that “seeing my daughters now picking up books that I read 30 years ago or 40 years ago is gratifying, because I want them to have perspective — not for purposes of complacency, but rather to give them confidence that people with a sense of determination and courage and pluck can reshape things. It’s empowering for them.”

The influential — and at times controversial — memoir, penned in 1976, tells the story of a first-generation Chinese American woman using a blend of Chinese folktales and a mix of perspectives.

Kingston, a Berkeley professor, is the daughter of immigrants who is also responsible for “China Men,” a 1981 work of nonfiction that won a National Book Award.

Some other books on Malia’s new reading list? Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead,” Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and another feminist bible, Doris Lessing’s “The Golden Notebook.”