Author Spotlight: Amy Tan

I remember being in a kind of literary shock when, while working at the National Book Festival, Amy Tan strolled into the room for her interview looking coifed and regal. I knew her by sight, crossed her name off my list, and made sure she got to her seat to be interviewed about her contributions to literature and libraries. Wow, wow, wow. That experience inspired me to take a look at what else Tan has written besides her famous Joy Luck Club, so here we go.

The Joy Luck Club: A Novel by [Tan, Amy]

The Joy Luck Club

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

The Valley of Amazement by [Tan, Amy]

The Valley of Amazement

Spanning more than forty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement resurrects pivotal episodes in history: from the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty, to the rise of the Republic, the explosive growth of lucrative foreign trade and anti-foreign sentiment, to the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreign “Shanghailanders” living in the International Settlement, both erased by World War II.

A deeply evocative narrative about the profound connections between mothers and daughters, The Valley of Amazement returns readers to the compelling territory of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic insight and humor, she conjures a story of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.

Where the Past Begins: Memory and Imagination by [Tan, Amy]

Where the Past Begins

In Where the Past Begins, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan reveals the ways that our memories and personal experiences can inform our creative work. Drawing on her vivid impressions of her upbringing, Tan investigates the truths and inspirations behind her writing while illuminating how we all explore, confront, and process complex memories, especially half-forgotten ones from childhood.

With candor, empathy, and humor, Tan sheds light on her own writing process, sharing her hard-won insights on the nature of creativity and inspiration while exploring the universal urge to examine truth through the workings of imagination—and what that imaginative world tells us about our own lives. Where the Past Begins is both a unique look into the mind of an extraordinary storyteller and an indispensable guide for writers, artists, and other creative thinkers.

The Bonesetter's Daughter by [Tan, Amy]

The Bonesetter’s Daughter

Ruth Young and her widowed mother have always had a difficult relationship. But when she discovers writings that vividly describe her mother’s tumultuous life growing up in China, Ruth discovers a side of LuLing that she never knew existed.

Transported to a backwoods village known as Immortal Heart, Ruth learns of secrets passed along by a mute nursemaid, Precious Auntie; of a cave where dragon bones are mined; of the crumbling ravine known as the End of the World; and of the curse that LuLing believes she released through betrayal. Within the calligraphied pages awaits the truth about a mother’s heart, secrets she cannot tell her daughter, yet hopes she will never forget…

The Kitchen God's Wife by [Tan, Amy]

The Kitchen God’s Wife

With the same narrative skills and evocative powers that made her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, a national bestseller, Tan now tells the story of Winnie Louie, an aging Chinese woman unfolding a life’s worth of secrets to her suspicious, Americanized daughter.

Saving Fish from Drowning by [Tan, Amy]

Saving Fish from Drowning

On an ill-fated art expedition into the southern Shan state of Burma, eleven Americans leave their Floating Island Resort for a Christmas-morning tour and disappear. Through twists of fate, curses, and just plain human error, they find themselves deep in the jungle, where they encounter a tribe awaiting the return of the leader and the mythical book of wisdom that will protect them from the ravages and destruction of the Myanmar military regime.

Saving Fish from Drowning seduces the reader with a fagade of Buddhist illusions, magician’s tricks, and light comedy, even as the absurd and picaresque spiral into a gripping morality tale about the consequences of intentions—both good and bad—and about the shared responsibility that individuals must accept for the actions of others.

The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by [Tan, Amy]

The Opposite of Fate

Amy Tan has touched millions of readers with haunting and sympathetic novels of cultural complexity and profound empathy. With the same spirit and humor that characterize her acclaimed novels, she now shares her insight into her own life and how she escaped the curses of her past to make a future of her own. She takes us on a journey from her childhood of tragedy and comedy to the present day and her arrival as one of the world’s best-loved novelists. Whether recalling arguments with her mother in suburban California or introducing us to the ghosts that inhabit her computer, The Opposite of Fate offers vivid portraits of choices, attitudes, charms, and luck in action–a refreshing antidote to the world-weariness and uncertainties we all face today.

 

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