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Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate, Saving Fish from Drowning, and two children's books, The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, which has been adapted as Sagwa, a PBS series for children. Tan was also the co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Tan, who has a master's degree in linguistics from San Jose University, has worked as a language specialist to programs serving children with developmental disabilities. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.
Intensely poetic, startlingly imaginative and moving, this remarkable book will speak to many women, mothers and grown daughters, about the persistent tensions and powerful bonds between generations and cultures. The narrative voice moves among seven characters. Jing-mei ``June'' Woo recounts her first session in a San Francisco mah-jong club founded by her recently dead, spiritually vital, mother. The three remaining club members and their daughters alternate with stories of their lives, tales that are stunning, funny and heartbreaking. The mothers, all born in China, tell about grueling hardship and misery, the tyranny of family pride and the fear of losing face. The daughters try to reconcile their personalities, shaped by American standards, with seemingly irrational maternal expectations. ``My mother and I never understood each other; we translated each other's meanings. I talked to her in English, she answered back in Chinese,'' says one character. A crippling generation gap is the result: the mothers, superstitious, full of dread, always fearing bad luck, raise their daughters with hope that their lives will be better, but they also mourn the loss of a heritage their daughters cannot comprehend. Deceptively simple, yet inherently dramatic, each chapter can stand alone; yet personalities unfold and details build to deepen the impact and meaning of the whole. Thus, when infants abandoned in China in the first chapter turn up as adults in the last, their reunion with the one remaining family member is a poignant reminder of what is possible and what is not. On the order of Maxine Hong Kingston's work, but more accessible, its Oriental orientation an irresistible magnet, Tan's first novel is a major achievement. First serial to Atlantic, Ladies' Home Journal and San Francisco Focus; BOMC and QPBC featured alternates. (Mar.)
What a wonderful book! The ``joy luck club'' is a mah jong/storytelling support group formed by four Chinese women in San Francisco in 1949. Years later, when member Suyuan Woo dies, her daughter June (Jing-mei) is asked to take her place at the mah jong table. With chapters alternating between the mothers and the daughters of the group, we hear stories of the old times and the new; as parents struggle to adjust to America, their American children must struggle with the confusion of having immigrant parents. Reminiscent of Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior in its vivid depiction of Chinese-American women, this novel is full of complicated, endearingly human characters and first-rate story telling in the oral tradition. It should be a hit in any fiction collection.-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
"Powerful as myth." --The Washington Post Book World"Beautifully written...a jewel of a book." --The New York Times Book Review "Powerful...full of magic...you won't be doing anything of importance until you have finished this book." --Los Angeles Times "Wonderful...a significant lesson in what storytelling has to do with memory and inheritance." --San Francisco Chronicle "Reading it really changed the way I thought about Asian-American history. Our heritage has a lot of difficult stuff in it -- a lot of misogyny, a lot of fear and rage and death. It showed me a past that reached beyond borders and languages and cultures to bring together these disparate elements of who we are. I hadn't seen our history like that before. At that time, we hadn't seen a lot of Asian-American representations anywhere, so it was a big deal that it even existed. It made me feel validated and seen. That's what's so important about books like that. You feel like, Oh my god, I exist here. I exist in this landscape of literature and memoir. I'm here, and I have a story to tell, and it's among the canon of Asian-American stories that are feminist and that are true to our being. It's a book that has stayed with me and lived in me." --Margaret Cho