(US, 1952– )
Amy Tan was born and educated in California and Switzerland, but her parents were immigrants from mainland China. Her interest in her own roots and identity forms the inspiration for her fiction, and has made Amy Tan one of the foremost of Chinese-American novelists. Her first novel was The Joy Luck Club (1989), a collection of interlocking narratives told by four Chinese mothers and their daughters, some contemporary, others set in semi-feudal and Communist China. The Joy Luck Club itself is four mothers who meet regularly to play mahjong, eat good food, and raise their spirits. The novel has been made into a successful feature film. The Kitchen God's Wife (1991) is equally concerned with the relationships between mother and daughter, and particularly the secrets they withhold from each other. In this novel it is the aunt who brings about the revelation of these secrets. In The Hundred Secret Senses (1996) Tan looks instead at the relationship between two half-sisters, one culturally American, the other an immigrant from China who can communicate with ghosts—yin people. The novel ends with both sisters visiting China. In her fourth novel, The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001), Tan gives her mother-daughter story a different twist; here it is only through reading her mother LuLing's memoir that Ruth is able to become close to her. LuLing's story is often painful, but Tan's writing, rich in atmosphere and imagery and steeped inold mythologies, makes this a pleasure to read.
Maxine Hong Kingston, Timothy Mo, Isabel Allende SA