Tan in 2007
February 19, 1952
|Alma mater||San Jose State University bachelor's and master's degrees
UC Santa Cruz & UC Berkeley doctoral
|Notable works||The Joy Luck Club|
Amy Tan (born February 19, 1952) is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese-American experience. Her best-known work is The Joy Luck Club, which has been translated into 25 languages. In 1993, the book was adapted into a commercially successful film.
Tan has written several other bestselling novels, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning and The Valley of Amazement. She also wrote a collection of non-fiction essays entitled The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings. In addition to these, Tan has written two children's books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series which aired on PBS.
Tan was born in Oakland, California. She is the second of three children born to Chinese immigrants Daisy (née Li) and John Tan, an Electrical Engineer and Baptist minister. Tan attended Marian A. Peterson High School in Sunnyvale for one year. When Tan was 15 years old, her older brother Peter and father both died of brain tumors within eight months of each other. Daisy moved Amy and her younger brother John Jr. to Switzerland, where Amy finished high school at the Institut Monte Rosa, Montreux. During this period, Amy learned about her mother's former marriage to an abusive man in China, of their four children (a son who died as a toddler and three daughters), and how her mother was forced to leave her children from a previous marriage behind in Shanghai. This incident was the basis for Tan's first novel, 1989 New York Times bestseller The Joy Luck Club. In 1987 Amy traveled with Daisy to China. There, Amy met her three half-sisters.
Tan began her college days at Linfield College in Oregon before transferring to San Jose State University in California because she had fallen in love with Lou DeMattei, an Italian American, whom she met on blind date and married in 1974. Tan received her Bachelor's and master's degrees in English and Linguistics from San Jose State and later did doctoral Linguistics Studies at U.C. Santa Cruz and U.C. Berkeley. While in school, she worked odd jobs—switchboard operator, carhop, bartender, and pizza maker—before starting a writing career. As a freelance business writer, she worked on projects for AT&T, IBM, Bank of America, and Pacific Bell.
In 1998, Tan contracted Lyme disease, which went misdiagnosed for a few years. As a result, she suffers complications like epileptic seizures. Tan co-founded LymeAid 4 Kids, which helps uninsured children pay for treatment. She wrote about her life with Lyme disease in The New York Times.
She resides in San Francisco, California, with her tax attorney husband in a house they designed "to feel open and airy, like a tree house, but also to be a place where we could live comfortably into old age" with accessibility features. Tan is also in a band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, with several other prominent writers.
Work and themes
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Tan's first novel was The Joy Luck Club, published in 1989, which became a best-seller. The novel consists of sixteen related stories about the experiences of four Chinese-American mother-daughter pairs.
The Hundred Secret Senses, published in 1995, was a departure from the first two novels, in focusing on the relationships between sisters. The Bonesetter's Daughter, Tan's fourth novel, tells the story of an immigrant Chinese woman and her American-born daughter.
Tan's work has been adapted into films and other media. The Joy Luck Club was adapted into a both a play and a film in 1993. The Bonesetter's Daughter was adapted into an opera in 2008. Tan's children's book Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat was adapted into a PBS animated television show.
- The Joy Luck Club (1989)
- The Kitchen God's Wife (1991)
- The Hundred Secret Senses (1995)
- The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001)
- Saving Fish from Drowning (2005)
- Rules for Virgins (2012; an excerpt from The Valley of Amazement)
- The Valley of Amazement (2013)
- The Moon Lady, illustrated by Gretchen Schields (1992)
- Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, illustrated by Gretchen Schields (1994)
- Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America With Three Cords and an Attitude (with Dave Barry, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Barbara Kingsolver) (1994)
- Mother (with Maya Angelou, Mary Higgins Clark) (1996)
- The Best American Short Stories 1999 (Editor, with Katrina Kenison) (1999)
- The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2003, ISBN 9780399150746)
- Hard Listening, co-authored in July 2013, an interactive ebook about her participation in a writer/musician band, the Rock Bottom Remainders. Published by Coliloquy, LLC.
- 1989, Finalist National Book Award for The Joy Luck Club
- 1989, Finalist National Book Critics Circle Award for The Joy Luck Club
- Finalist Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize
- Bay Area Book Reviewers Award
- Commonwealth Gold Award
- American Library Association's Notable Books
- American Library Association's Best Book for Young Adults
- 2005-2006, Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Honorable Mention for Saving Fish From Drowning
- The Joy Luck Club selected for the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read
- New York Times Notable Book
- Booklist Editors Choice
- Finalist for the Orange Prize
- Nominated for the Orange Prize
- Nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
- Audie Award: Best Non-fiction, Abridged
- Parents' Choice Award, Best Television Program for Children
- Shortlisted British Academy of Film and Television Arts award, best screenplay adaptation
- Shortlisted WGA Award, best screenplay adaptation
- 1996, Academy of Achievement, Golden Plate Award
- Sherryl Connelly (February 27, 2001). "Mother As Tormented Muse Amy Tan Drew On A Dark Past For 'Daughter'". nydailynews.com (New York Daily News). Archived from the original on 2011-03-14. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- Huntley, E.D. (1998). Amy Tan: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 5–7, 80. ISBN 0313302073.
- "The Archives of my Personality", address to American Association of Museums General Session (Los Angeles), May 26, 2010
- "Amy Tan Biography". Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- "Penguin Reading Guides - The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan". Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2010.
- Kinsella, Bridget (August 9, 2013). "‘Fifty Shades of Tan’: Amy Tan". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
- Tauber, Michelle (November 3, 2003). "A New Ending". People Magazine. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- "Amy Tan Biography". Archived from the original on July 2, 2008. Retrieved July 19, 2008.
- Stone, Steven (August 2015). "Summertime Blues: To DEET or not to DEET...". Vintage Guitar. p. 60.
- Amy Tan (August 11, 2013). "My Plight with the Illness". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
- Tan, Amy (July 30, 2014). "Amy Tan on Joy and Luck at Home: The novelist builds a home she can grow old in". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
- "Amy Tan." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 257. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center.
- Hoyte, Kirsten D. Contradiction and Culture: Revisiting Amy Tan's "Two Kinds" (Again). Publication. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/essays/15966483/contradiction-culture-revisiting-amy-tans-two-kinds-again
- "Sagwa: About the show". PBS Kids.
- "Hard Listening".
- "National Book Awards". Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- "All Past National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists". National Book Critics Circle. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- "APALA: 2005-2006 Awards".
- "The Big Read: The Joy Luck Club".
- "1993-2008 Golden Plate Recipients". Retrieved 12 October 2014.
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