Amy Tan: Storyteller of Chinese American Experience

Posted on Jan 12, 2017

As individuals, immigrants experience the world differently. They are often confused in choosing between a culture that is in their blood and one that surrounds them.

Amy Tan is one writer who explores the experiences of Chinese Americans as well as their families. Born in the United States to immigrant parents from China, Amy grew up with the same expectations that Asian children knew all too well. Her parents wanted her to become a doctor and a concert pianist. Secretly, she wanted to be an artist.

Photo of Amy Tan

Growing up, Amy tried her best to meet her parents’ expectations. Following several family tragedies, including the death of her father and brother, Amy earned a double degree in English and linguistics from San Jose City College and pursued both a master’s degree and a doctorate in linguistics. She worked in the field of disabilities and then as a freelance business writer.

Amy wrote fiction in her spare time. In 1989, she published The Joy Luck Club, her most popular story to date. The novel contains different narratives structured like a mah-jongg game and tells of four Chinese American immigrant families in San Francisco. The families start the Joy Luck Club, where they play mah-jongg for money. The novel has been adapted into a stage play and a critically acclaimed film.

Another popular Amy Tan novel is The Kitchen God’s Wife. The novel tackles the relationship between a mother and daughter and explores the Sino-American female identity. Other popular Amy Tan titles include The Hundred Secret Senses and The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Her classical training with the piano greatly helped her in writing the libretto for The Bonesetter’s Daughter opera.

Amy Tan was infected with Lyme disease in 1999, which was undetected until 2003. She continues to suffer from periodic epileptic seizures because of her illness. As a sufferer, she remains a strong advocate for her cause.

Disclaimer: Image is not ours. Credit to the owner.

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