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Introduction to Literature. Lesson Seven: tan Family Relationships. Margarette Connor. Contents. Amy Tan biography “Two Kinds” discussion. Amy Tan. Joy Luck Club ( 喜福會) One of the most highly acclaimed writers of our day. “ No one will deny the pleasure of Tan's seductive prose”.

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introduction to literature

Introduction to Literature

Lesson Seven: tan

Family Relationships

Margarette Connor

  • Amy Tan biography
  • “Two Kinds” discussion
amy tan
Amy Tan
  • Joy Luck Club
  • (喜福會)
  • One of the most highly acclaimed writers of our day.
  • “No one will deny the pleasure of Tan's seductive prose”
tan and immigrant family
Tan and Immigrant Family
  • Her parents escaped from Shanghai.
  • Her Main Topics: Generational Conflicts, War between the sexes, assimilation.
  • Told by an Chinese-American narrator, who tries to find a balance between her Chinese culture and what the American society expects of her.
  • This happened to my Egyptian students, too. They had to find a balance between their Egyptian culture and Geneva society.
  • Asian-Americans face pressures also because they look different; they are seen as ethnic others.
early life
Early Life
  • Born February 19, 1952 in Oakland, California.
  • Grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Her family lived in several communities in Northern California before settling in Santa Clara.
  • Father, John, an electrical engineer and Baptist minister from Beijing who fled the country for the US.
  • Mother, Daisy, who had been in an arranged marriage, was trying to flee with John.
    • Captured, raped and thrown into jail before she was able to escape.
    • Had to leave her daughters with their father.
early success early tragedy
Early success, early tragedy
  • 8 years old became a published author
    • wrote an essay on the public library that was published in a local paper.
  • Father and oldest brother both died of brain tumors within a year of each other when she was in high school.
move to switzerland
Move to Switzerland
  • Mrs. Tan moved her two surviving children to Switzerland, where Amy finished high school, graduated from high school in Montreux, Switzerland.
  • During this period much friction between mother and daughter.
    • Amy Tan talks about how this was her very rebellious period
  • Originally attended Baptist college in Oregon
    • chosen by mother
  • Left and followed her boyfriend to San Jose City College (California)
  • Mother and daughter did not speak for six months
  • Further defied her mother by abandoning the pre-med course mother wanted in order to study English and linguistics.
  • Received her bachelor's and master's degrees in these fields at San Jose State University.
  • 1974, married “the boyfriend” Louis DeMattei, to whom she’s still married.
  • Now live in San Francisco and New York.

Tan and her husband

earlier careers
Earlier careers
  • Studied for a doctorate in linguistics, first at the U of California-Santa Cruz, later at Berkeley.
    • Left in 1976 without taking a degree
  • Worked with developmentally disabled people
  • With a partner, started a business writing firm, providing speeches for salesmen and executives for large corporations.
professional writer
Professional writer
  • During the early 1980s became a full-time freelance writer, often using non-Chinese-sounding pseudonyms in her work.
  • Very successful, but soon found herself living the life of a workaholic
relief in creative efforts
Relief in creative efforts
  • Studied jazz piano
    • hoping to channel the musical training forced on her by her parents in childhood into a more personal expression.
  • Also began to write fiction.
immediate success
Immediate success
  • First story "Endgame," won her admission to the Squaw Valley writer's workshop taught by novelist Oakley Hall.
  • 1985 story appeared in FM, literary magazine, and was reprinted in Seventeen.
  • A literary agent was impressed enough with Tan's second story "Waiting Between the Trees," to take her on as a client and encouraged her to write an entire volume
mother falls ill
Mother falls ill
  • Promised herself that if her mother recovered would take her to China to see the daughter who had been left behind almost forty years before.
  • Mrs. Tan regained her health
    • departed for China in 1987.
  • A “revelation” for Tan.
    • gave her a new perspective on her often-difficult relationship with her mother
    • inspired her to complete the book of stories she had promised her agent.
relationship with mother improves
Relationship with mother improves

Tan has said that the trip to China and learning about her mother’s past have helped to heal their relationship.

joy luck club
Joy Luck Club
  • The book that was promised to the agent was The Joy Luck Club.
  • The rest is history.
major works
Major works
  • Joy Luck Club 1989, also made into a film
  • Kitchen God’s Wife 1991
  • The Hundred Secret Senses 1995
  • The Bonesetter’s Daughter 2001
children s works
Children’s works
  • The Moon Lady 1992
  • Sagwa,The Chinese Siamese Cat 1994
magazine contributor
Magazine contributor
  • Essay "Mother Tongue" was published in The Threepenny Review and was selected for the 1991 edition of Best American Essays.
  • Stories have appeared in
    • The Atlantic,
    • Grand Street,
    • Lear's,
    • McCall's, and others
rock bottom remainders
Rock Bottom Remainders
  • Sings in the charity in a rock band, with other bestselling writers, including Stephen King, Carl Hiaasen and, until recently, Barbara Kingsolver.

“Geek Chic” The band’s original line-up. Fuzzy but funny.

nobody on the bus asks where do you get your ideas
"Nobody on the bus asks, 'Where do you get your ideas?'"
  • Touring once a year as a leather-clad dominatrix belting out These Boots Are Made for Walking and Leader of the Pack satisfies a need,she says, to be a teenager again.

Tan with the band

with other asian american writers
With other Asian-American writers
  • As a writer, she is often grouped with other Asian-American writers including
  • Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior)
  • Wakako Yamauchi (Songs My Mother Taught Me).
lots of two kinds
Lots of “two kinds”
  • Of daughters: “Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind!”
  • Jing-Mei and Waverly Jong, her “rival” at perfection
  • Chinese-American
  • Living daughters, dead daughters
  • “Pleading Child” and “Perfectly Contented”