The Joy Luck Club
The MOTHERS THE DAUGHTERS
Suyuan Woo Jing-mei “June” Woo
An-mei Hsu Rose Hsu Jordan
Lindo Jong Waverly Jong
Ying-ying St. Clair Lena St. Clair
Born in 1952 in Oakland, California to Chinese immigrant parents, Amy Tan followed her own path. Over the objections of her mother, she majored in college in writing and linguistics and pursued a career in business writing.
Any Tan’s relationship with her mother was very difficult. An opportunity to travel with her mother back to China brought a new perspective.
Amy Tan’s first fiction efforts were short stories. These attracted an agent, Sandra Dijkstra, who sold what became The Joy Luck Club to Putnam’s. When published in 1986 The Joy Luck Club spent 40 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller list. It was nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a recipient of the Commonwealth Gold Award and the Bay Area Book Award. The Joy Luck Club was adapted into a feature film in 1994, for which Amy Tan was a co-screenwriter with Ron Bass and a co-producer with Bass and Wayne Wang.
A stunning literary achievement, The Joy Luck Club explores the tender and tenacious bond between four daughters and their mothers. The daughters know one side of their mothers, but they don’t know about their earlier never-spoken of lives in China. The mothers want love and obedience from their daughters, but they don’t know the gifts that the daughters keep to themselves. Heartwarming and bittersweet, this is a novel for mother, daughters, and those that love them.
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Feathers From a Thousand LI Away
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The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum. This bird, boasted the market vendor, was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look!—it is too beautiful to eat.
Then the woman and the swan sailed across an ocean many thousands of li wide, stretching their necks toward America. On her journey she cooed to the swan: “In America I will have a daughter just like me. But over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch. Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak only perfect American English. And over there she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow! She will know my meaning, because I will give her this swan—a creature that became more than what was hoped for.”
But when she arrived in the new country, the immigration officials pulled her swan away from her, leaving the woman fluttering her arms and with only one swan feather for a memory. And then she had to fill out so many forms she forgot why she had come and what she had left behind.
Now the woman was old. And she had a daughter who grew up speaking only English and swallowing more Coca-Cola than sorrow. For a long time now the woman had wanted to give her daughter the single swan feather and tell her, “This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.” And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English.
The Joy Luck Club
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My father has asked me to be the fourth corner at the Joy Luck Club. I am to replace my mother, whose seat at the mah jong table has been empty since she died two months ago. My father thinks she was killed by her own thoughts.
“She had a new idea inside her head,” said my father. “But before it could come out of her mouth, the thought grew too big and burst. It must have been a very bad idea.”
The doctor said she died of a cerebral aneurysm. And her friends at the Joy Luck Club said she died just like a rabbit: quickly and with unfinished business left behind. My mother was supposed to host the next meeting of the Joy Luck Club.
The week before she died, she called me, full of pride, full of life: “Auntie Lin cooked red bean soup for Joy Luck. I’m going to cook black sesame-seed soup.”