Alexander Kuo

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Alexander Kuo (born 1939 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American teacher, poet, fiction writer, and essayist.[1] He was a Professor of English at Washington State University, and retired in 2012. He has taught in numerous academic institutions in China, including Beijing and Changchun universities. In 2002 he won an American Book Award for his Lipstick and Other Stories of the Before Columbus Foundation.

Early life and education[edit]

Alexander Kuo was born in Boston, Massachusetts when his father Zing-Yang Kuo, a visiting Chinese scientist, was doing research at the Carnegie Nutrition Laboratory. His mother, Lin Qui Fang, was also a scientist. His parents returned to China in 1939 when he was 9 months old. He lived in Chongqing and Shanghai until 1947 when his family moved to Hong Kong. In 1956 he came to the United States to continue his education. He received his B.A. from Knox College in Illinois in 1961,[2] where he studied with Sam Moon and Gogisgi. He earned an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa, where he studied in the Iowa Writer's Workshop with Donald Justice and Philip Roth.


Kuo was a professor of English at Washington State University (WSU), which lists him as an example of their "world class faculty."[3] He is the former chair of the Department of Comparative American Cultures[4] (now called Comparative Ethnic Studies).[5] In 2001, WSU named him as their first Writer-in-Residence.[6]

Kuo has been a mentor to Sherman Alexie, a notable Native American writer.[7]



Reviewer Robert H. Abel said in 2001 that Kuo's writing makes demands on the reader in a way comparable to Franz Kafka or Jorge Luis Borges.[9]



  • The Window Tree (1974)
  • New Letters from Hiroshima, and Other Poems (1974)
  • Changing the River (1986)
  • This Fierce Geography (1998)
  • A Chinaman’s Chance: New and Selected Poems 1960-2010 (2011)
  • Meeting Words at the Gate (Bilingual English/Chinese, 2015)


  • Chinese Opera (novel, 1998)
  • Lipstick and Other Stories (short stories, 2001)
  • Panda Diaries (novel, 2006)
  • White Jade and Other Stories (short stories, 2008)
  • The Man Who Dammed the Yangtze: A Mathematical Novel (novel, 2011)
  • shanghai.shanghai.shanghai (novel, 2015)
  • Mao’s Kisses: A Novel of June 4, 1989 (novel, 2019)


  • My Private China, (2013)


  1. ^ Alex Kuo, "Damming the American West", Bluefish website, 2003
  2. ^ ""Poet Alex Kuo Judges Writing Awards"". Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2007-03-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ "Future Students: Why WSU?" Archived 2007-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Natascha Karlova, "On Lipstick, Rodeo Queens, Creative Compatibility, and Making a Difference," Ask. Magazine, WSU College of Liberal Arts (December 2002), p. 15.
  5. ^ CAE Homepage Archived 2007-04-13 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ WSU Press Release [1] Archived 2006-09-04 at the Wayback Machine (June 2001)
  7. ^ WSU Press Release [2] (January 1999) Archived September 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "ABE List of Winners" "Archived item". Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2007-03-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ Robert H. Abel, "Review of 'Lipstick and Other Stories'," Asian Review of Books (March 2001)

External links[edit]