Reading Amy Tan
by Lan Dong
June 2009, 138pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Hardcover: 978-0-313-35546-2
$60, £47, 53€, A83
eBook Available: 978-0-313-35547-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Born in the United States to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan confesses that she “failed her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist.” Instead, she settled on writing fiction. The result is five New York Times best-selling novels, including the celebrated The Joy Luck Club.

This essential discussion of Amy Tan's life and works is a necessity for high school students and an enriching supplement for book club members.

A tour-de-force in Asian American writing, Amy Tan has created works that are essential to high school and undergraduate literature classes and are often book club selections. Reading Amy Tan is a handy resource that offers both groups plot summaries of five of Tan’s novels, as well as character and thematic analysis. The handbook also provides an overview of Tan’s life and discusses how she emerged onto the scene as a novelist.

Tan’s typical themes, including Asian American issues and mother-daughter relationships, are examined in relation to today’s current events and pop culture. Readers will also discover how and where they can find Tan on the Internet, and how the media has received her works. The “What Do I Read Next” chapter will help readers find other authors and works that deal with similar subjects. This handbook is an indispensable tool for both high school and public libraries.


  • Summarizes each of Tan’s novels, offering a plot summary and a discussion of themes, settings, and characters
  • Provides questions that can be used to generate classroom and book club discussion
  • Includes sidebars to highlight interesting information about the author and her work
  • Offers a selected, general bibliography of print and electronic resources to facilitate further study
Lan Dong is assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, IL.


"For high school students and book clubs, Dong provides an overview of the life and works of writer Amy Tan. The book covers her biography, influence, writing career, how her life relates to her work, and narrative structure in her writing, and contains overviews of the novels The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and Saving Fish from Drowning. Other chapters address her relation to popular culture, the media, and current issues, and resources on the internet. Recommendations for other books and movies based on the cultural and literary characteristics of Tan’s novels are given."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2009
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