The Joy Luck Club
By Amy Tan
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143038092, 288pp.)
Publication Date: September 21, 2006
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For readers of Amy Tan's bestselling novel, The Valley of Amazement, revisit her classic tale of mothers and daughters
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.
With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.
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.
- Although the women in The Joy Luck Club are Chinese or Chinese American, and their heritage plays an important part in their lives, they also have experiences that all of us face, regardless of culture, even today. They struggle with raising their children, contend with unhappy marriages, cope with difficult financial circumstances, and are disheartened by bad luck. Which of the eight main characters did you identify with the most? Why?
"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