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The Joy Luck Club Paperback – September 21, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Intensely poetic, startlingly imaginative and moving, this remarkable book will speak to many women, mothers and grown daughters, about the persistent tensions and powerful bonds between generations and cultures. The narrative voice moves among seven characters. Jing-mei "June" Woo recounts her first session in a San Francisco mah-jong club founded by her recently dead, spiritually vital, mother. The three remaining club members and their daughters alternate with stories of their lives, tales that are stunning, funny and heartbreaking. The mothers, all born in China, tell about grueling hardship and misery, the tyranny of family pride and the fear of losing face. The daughters try to reconcile their personalities, shaped by American standards, with seemingly irrational maternal expectations. "My mother and I never understood each other; we translated each other's meanings. I talked to her in English, she answered back in Chinese," says one character. A crippling generation gap is the result: the mothers, superstitious, full of dread, always fearing bad luck, raise their daughters with hope that their lives will be better, but they also mourn the loss of a heritage their daughters cannot comprehend. Deceptively simple, yet inherently dramatic, each chapter can stand alone; yet personalities unfold and details build to deepen the impact and meaning of the whole. Thus, when infants abandoned in China in the first chapter turn up as adults in the last, their reunion with the one remaining family member is a poignant reminder of what is possible and what is not. On the order of Maxine Hong Kingston's work, but more accessible, its Oriental orientation an irresistible magnet, Tan's first novel is a major achievement. First serial to Atlantic, Ladies' Home Journal and San Francisco Focus; BOMC and QPBC featured alternates.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Later Printing edition (September 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038092
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (798 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, and two children's books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, which has now been adapted as a PBS production. Tan was also a co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into thirty-five languages. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 137 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THE JOY LUCK CLUB, a novel by Amy Tan, tells of the intricate relationships between two strong-willed generations, four tough, intelligent American women and their equally tenacious Chinese daughters. The four families are connected through the Joy Luck Club, a mah jong group that meets each week. After its founding member passes away, her daughter is asked to take her place at the table and the stories begin. Each of the eight women narrates two stories from her own point of view except for the deceased whose daughter tells her stories for her. The mothers relate stories about their lives in China, and the daughters tell of the trials that they face growing up as first-generation Chinese-Americans. The women that Tan has crafted are well developed and extraordinarily believable. She shows the strong and weak sides to all eight of her main characters. Her men however, are flat and are there simply as supporting characters. This is to be expected since this is essentially a book about mother-daughter relationships and how women bond. Therefore, it is my assumption that this book is aimed, for the most part, at the female reader. Tan's literary style is truly novel. The way this woman writes can't be compared to anything that I have read in recent years. The novel that I feel comes closest to mirroring Tan's subject matter is THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck. As I was reading, I found myself continually drawing parallels between the two. Therefore, if you found Buck's novel enjoyable, Tan's will be a pleasure as well. At face value, I feel that Tan wrote sixteen incredibly interesting stories. It is the undercurrent that runs throughout the novel, however, that makes it a classic.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Amy Tan writes about four mothers struggling through the hard times in life in order to live a better one in the future. The Joy Luck Club formed by four women in China allowed them to share their stories and forget their worries. These four mothers hoped that raising their daughters in America and raising them the American way will give them a more successful life. They hoped that their daughters will learn to take better steps in life, than to take the wrong ones that their mothers have taken in the past. But the relationship between a mother and a daughter is so deep that they learn that a piece of their mother's personality traits will always be with them. And no matter how Americanized a child may be raised, she will still see a Chinese part of herself inside. Amy Tan really has her own style of writing. She includes Mandarin lines which makes it interesting and her book is so detailed that it seems believable and very realistic. Each page is so touching that it makes me want to go onto the next to read what happens after. I would say that this is one of the best books I have read.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Zachary S. Nelson on March 9, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
I read this book in Multi-Cultural Literature class. I think that Amy Tan is a truly gifted writer with a unique way of opening our imaginations to her world. This novel has 8 main characters. It's about 4 chinese women who came to America and how they have to change their ways. The other 4 chinese women are their daughters born in America. Each chapter is one of the characters point of view and their life story.
Ying Ying St. Clair: After being left by her first husband, marries her second husband who is an american.
Lena St. Clair: She is the daughter of Ying Ying. She is having marital problems with her husband Harold. Who wants to be treated equal. They have their own money and they split it down the middle.
Linda Jong: At a young age was in an arranged marriage, she later makes up a story that her in laws ancesters would be angry if she bare her husbands Child.
Waverly Jong: She is named after the street in which she lived in. She became a champion at chess, and realizing that it isn't so fun anymore.
An-Mei Hsu: She was raised by her Grandmother because her mother, although was alive was considered a "ghost" because she remarried after her first husband died. She has to decide whether she wants to leave with her mother after her Grandmothers death, or stay with her aunt and her brother.
Rose Hsu Jordan: She is dealing with her husbands divorce. She is fighting to keep the house that they both had lived in.
Suyuan Woo: She was the one who started 'The Joy Luck Club'. She decided to have 4 women gather around once a week, and eat a big feast, and laugh and talk about good times all through the night.
Jing Mei Woo: After her mother's death, she must go to China and meet with her long-lost twin sisters.
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Amy Tan's novel of many voices has become required reading in high school and college contemporary literature courses - and for good reason. Its intimate look at Chinese immigrants and their children opens up a wealth of questions about cultural acclimation in a country dominated by another race. Set in San Francisco and China, the novel begins with Jing-Mei ("June"), who has been asked by her father to take her recently deceased mother's place in the Joy Luck Club, ostensibly a mah jong gathering of her mother's closest friends, but also an investment club, symbolizing the merging of the two cultures. June agrees, although she doesn't feel she makes an adequate substitute for a woman who seemed so unlike her. When her "aunties" urge June to tell her sisters, women she has never met and who were left at the side of a road in China, about her mother's life, they are troubled when she confesses that she did not know her mother except as a mother. She sees that they fear that their own daughters might not know about them, and so she impulsively promises to find her mother's long lost children and tell them about their mother. In this way, the novel sets up its structure of interrelated stories. Although the stories of June and her mother Suyuan frame the others, those of An-Mei, Rose, Lindo, Waverly, Ying-ying, and Lena are no less important.

These women and their daughters form a complicated quilt of what it means to be a Chinese-American, whether born in China or in the United States, and they highlight the difficulties of bridging two cultures. The choices each woman makes are always difficult and often heart-breaking. Students might want to explore the difference in attitude between the Chinese women and their American daughters.
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