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The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club


by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club Introduction

In A Nutshell

Partly inspired by Amy Tan’s own relationship to her mother, The Joy Luck Club, Tan’s debut novel, was published in 1989. It tells the stories of four immigrant women from China – their hopes, fears, and tragic pasts – as well as the stories of their four American-born daughters. This mother-daughter story encompasses numerous universal themes, such as family, hope, love, sacrifice, strength, and wishes for a better life.


Why Should I Care?

What does a story that so beautifully treats the Chinese-American experience have to do with you? Answer the following questions to find out:

  1. Have you been, or will you ever be, a confused teenager?
  2. Do you have a mother? Do you totally not understand her, ever? Do you love her? Do you sometimes hate her?
  3. Do you have dreams? Wishes? Desires?
  4. Do you feel like you’re always falling short of your parents’ expectations?
  5. Do you feel like you know what’s wrong in your life but you just can’t fix it?
If you answered "yes" to any one of the above questions, you’ve got everything in common with the women of The Joy Luck Club. Amy Tan basically took a ton of universal themes, zoomed in on the lives of several Chinese-American women, and then presented the result to us as a nice book. At its heart of hearts, The Joy Luck Club is about understanding the people who have an interest in our lives – the people who changed our diapers, made sure we ate our vegetables, drove us to school – in short, our parents. It’s about realizing that our parents are real people, with their own hopes, dreams, histories, weaknesses, and triumphs.

If you’re still doubtful that you’re going to see any part of your own life reflected in The Joy Luck Club, you might want to read it just because it’s a good story. Off the top of our head, The Joy Luck Club has: extra-marital love affairs, food, laughter, blood and gore, war, faith and fate, twins, chess, superstition, abandoned children, elopement, and much, much more. It’s drama, it’s people. It’s stuff that could compete with Desperate Housewives any day of the week.

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