The reasons to read Amy Tan are not many, but they are important to anyone who loves a good read. Hopefully, too, they are compelling enough to convince you that this woman, author of the New York Times Best Seller The Joy Luck Club, is a must-have in your bookshelves. Here are my seven reasons to read Amy Tan.
1. She Discusses the Mother-daughter Relationship
Amy Tan is one of those daring authors who have delved into the intricacies of mother-daughter connection, including the love-hate relationship that these two often have for each other. The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, Two Kinds, and The Bonesetter’s Daughter all discussed this subject at length. This is one of the seven reasons to read Amy Tan. She paints those situations (using the power of words) that many don’t want to discuss.
2. She Gives Readers a Crash Course on Chinese Culture
Most of her novels – I think about 98% of them – talk about China and the Chinese people. It’s not surprising because Tan is of Chinese ancestry. She was born in the United States to Chinese immigrant parents, and her understanding of the rich culture comes through in all of her writing.
3. She Provides Personal Stories to Historical Accounts
In The Valley of Amazement, Tan presented the story of a mother who was raising her daughter in a courtesan house while the war was going on. Tan does this often – putting a human face to the war and armed struggle. It puts you in a place where you see yourself standing in the center of bombings and people running around wondering what to do with your life now that your world is crumbling down to pieces.
4. She is an Inspiration to Women Writers
Tan only started writing fiction at 33. Her first novel came out in 1989 when she was about 36. She has then written six novels and two children’s books, along with several non-fiction articles, making her an inspiration to women writers everywhere.
5. She Encourages People to Read
And it’s not just because she writes stories. Her parents wanted her to be a concert pianist and a doctor. Tan wanted to be an artist. Reading was her escape. She once said, "I think books were my salvation, they saved me from being miserable." How many of us can relate to that?
6. She Tells You That Writing is a Process
In 2013, she released The Valley of Amazement, eight years after Saving Fish from Drowning came out. She is the epitome of a writer who takes time to research her themes and not just write for the sake of coming out with a novel.
7. She Wrote the Libretto for the Opera of Her Book, the Bonesetter’s Daughter
Remember her parents wanted her to be a concert pianist? Well, she didn’t exactly become that but she wrote the libretto – Italian word that literally means small book - the text and stage directions of an opera. I think her parents would be at least a little happy with this one.
I am now trying to secure copies of her two children’s books and it’s been quite a challenge here in China. The irony! Any thoughts on the books of Amy Tan? What’s your favorite Amy Tan book?