Sunday, July 17, 2011

Joy Luck Club

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Tan, Amy, Asian American novelist, was born in Oakland, Calif., on February 1, 15 approximately two and a half years after her parents emigrated from China. Amy Tan grew up in a rather large family as the second-to-youngest child. She attended high school in Switzerland and has been educated at eight different colleges, including Berkley and Oregon University.

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, she was fiercely opposed to her Chinese background in her youth, and she even went as far as sleeping with a clothespin on her nose hoping to narrow its Asian shape. Tans ties to China have so much to do with her mother. Though her father was a deeply religious (Christian) man, her mother always kept her Chinese traditions on reserve. When Tans father and brother both became terminally ill with malignant brain tumors, her mother called on as many of the Chinese religious traditions that she could. Tan says she is still haunted by these spirits that her mother so faithfully believed in; her works are especially reflective of these childhood experiences. After Tans father and her older brother died from brain tumors within eight months of each other in 168, her mother revealed that she had three daughters from a previous marriage still living in China. Tan felt sure that she was, in her own words, the wicked daughter, so she became more rebellious and rejected her background with a renewed vigor.

After this family tragedy, Tans mother took her and her younger brother to live in Europe. Tan finished high school in Montreux, Switzerland, and the family returned to the United States shortly thereafter. She attended numerous institutions before receiving a masters degree in linguistics from San Jose State University in 176. Though she has always had writing in her blood (her first published work was What the Library Means to Me at age eight), Tan has not always been the well-known author she is now. She has held quite a few odd jobs--bartender and carhop, for example. After graduation she worked as a consultant for developmentally disabled children until she turned to freelance writing in the early 180s.

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The overwhelming success that Amy Tan achieved with her first novel, The Joy Luck Club (18), resulted in part from the vividness of her recollections of growing up as a Chinese American. Although the novel dealt with the problematic relationships between Chinese-born parents and their Americanized children, Tan was reluctant to be considered a spokesperson for Asian Americans. She felt she was dealing with a personal conflict rather than with the raising of political consciousness. More importantly, she wanted her literary accomplishments to be regarded as aesthetic creations rather than as vehicles for cultural or historical edification, and the success of her subsequent novels did indeed establish Amy Tan as a notable literary presence whose bestsellers generated widespread, multi-ethnic appeal.

As a release from working 0 hours a week as a well-established business writer, Tan decided in 185 to pursue her dream of writing fiction. She attended a writers workshop, read lots of fiction, and began writing a short story. The short story she composed, called Endgame, was about a young girls success as a chess champion. Endgame eventually became a part of The Joy Luck Club, a novel which actually began as a series of short stories written for magazines.

The Joy Luck Club, her most widely-read work, was nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was the recipient of the Commonwealth Gold Award and the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, along with the massive amounts of praise it received from critics everywhere. Her latest book, The Hundred Secret Senses, is sure to be as successful as The Joy Luck Club and the subsequent novel, The Kitchen Gods Wife.

The Joy Luck Club related the experiences of four Chinese mothers, their Chinese American daughters, and the struggle of the two generations to communicate with one another. Tan was strongly motivated to write this novel when, after her mother was hospitalized due to an apparent heart attack, Tan decided to get to know her mother better, take her to China, and write a book. Finally, upon meeting two of her half-sisters on her trip to China with her mother in 187, she felt a sense of belonging, and she reflected this feeling and wove parts of her mothers life into The Joy Luck Club. Tans first novel met with instant critical and commercial success. It became the longest running bestseller on The New York Times bestseller list in 18. The book was also made into a feature film, for which Tan co-write the screenplay.

Tan followed her first successful novel with a second novel, The Kitchen Gods Wife, in 11. As with her first novel, her style was infused with flashbacks, storytelling, and a strong sense of history. Her second novel became a number one bestseller on The New York Times hardcover list. Her third novel, which focused on the bond between sisters, used ghosts and other unearthly phenomena to explore the intricacies of human relationships. It appeared on the bestseller list upon its release. In addition to her novels, Amy Tan wrote two childrens books, The Moon Lady (1) and The Chinese Siamese Cat, with illustrator Gretchen Schields.

The author now lives in San Francisco with her husband, Lou DeMattei, and has no children but two dogs she loves.

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