Monday, December 16, 2013


A technical writer whose first book wasn't published until she was 35 years old, Amy Tan burst upon the literary scene in 1987 with The Joy Luck Club.  Translated into more than 30 languages and considered an American classic, the book is about Chinese mothers and daughters living in San Francisco, and their relationships. Ms. Tan recently spoke at a Vroman’s book store event at UCLA (moderated by the always sparkling LA Times journalist Pat Morrison) and talked about what that book meant to her and how it changed her life. 
The Monrovia Library has all Ms. Tan’s books in its collection, including the newest, The Valley of Amazement, the author’s first book in 8 years. The inspiration for the novel was a photo in a Shanghai history book that showed a group of courtesans who were wearing a dress very similar to one Tan’s grandmother owned.  The Valley of Amazement begins in Shanghai and is about an American woman who runs a high class bordello. She and her daughter Violet are separated just before they are to leave for San Francisco and their lives unravel, in very similar ways, over the next 40 years.  Although an epic story, the novel centers on the personal lives of women.

Other Amy Tan books include The Kitchen God’s Wife (a mother feels that she must share her terrible past with her daughter), The Hundred Secret Senses (two sisters, one American and one Chinese, formerly unknown to each other, meet and the American sister discovers that her sibling can see ghosts) and The Bonesetter’s Daughter (a magical story about a mother who must write down her memories so her daughter will know the past).  Tan’s themes are similar, but each book is a treasure.

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