Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Amy Tan (given the Chinese name of An-Mei, or “Blessing from America”) was the second of three children born to Chinese immigrants John and Daisy Tan. Her father, educated as an electrical engineer in Beijing, became a Baptist minister. Daisy, child of a privileged family, was forced to leave behind three daughters from a previous marriage when she fled Communist troops.
Tan’s older brother died in 1967 and her father six months later, both of brain tumors. This began a troubled time for her. At fifteen, she moved to Europe with her mother and younger brother, was arrested for drugs in Switzerland at sixteen, and nearly eloped to Austria with a German army deserter.
Daisy Tan wanted her daughter to be a neurosurgeon and a concert pianist, but Tan felt she could not live up to her mother’s expectations. Although her test scores were highest in math and science, she left premedical studies to become an English major. In 1974, she earned a master’s degree in linguistics from San Jose State University and married tax attorney Lou DeMattei. She began doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley but, after a close friend and roommate was murdered, she dropped out to become a consultant to programs for disabled children. Later she served as reporter, editor, and publisher for Emergency Room Reports.
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Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Tan’s books, which have been published in more than twenty-five languages, are chiefly concerned with the troubled relationships and the conflicts of love between mothers and daughters who are separated by different cultures as well as by generations. She also covers a wide spectrum of lives and customs of Chinese women up until the postwar Cultural Revolution, and she examines the concepts of fate, luck, and choice. Although Tan does not consider herself a spokeswoman for Chinese Americans, her writing has awakened further interest in the Chinese American perspective in American literature.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Amy Ruth Tan was born in Oakland, California, on February 19, 1952, the middle child (and only daughter) of John Yuehhan and Daisy Tu Ching Tan, who had emigrated from China. Her father was an electrical engineer in China, but he became a minister in the United States. The family moved frequently, finally settling in Santa Clara, California. After the death of her husband and older son when Amy was fifteen years old, Daisy took the family to Switzerland and enrolled her children in schools there, but she returned to California in 1969.
Tan’s parents hoped she would become a physician and concert pianist. She began a premedical course of study but switched to English and linguistics, much to her mother’s dismay. She received her B.A. in 1973 and her M.A. in 1974 from San Jose State University. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, from 1974 to 1976, beginning studies toward a doctorate. In 1974, she married Louis M. DeMattei, a tax attorney; they settled in San Francisco.
Tan was a language consultant, a reporter, a managing editor, and a freelance technical writer before she turned to fiction writing. She joined a writing workshop in 1985 and submitted a story about a Chinese American chess prodigy. The revised version was first published in a small literary magazine and reprinted in Seventeen magazine as “Rules of the Game.” When Tan learned that the story had appeared in Italy and had been translated without...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Amy Ruth Tan was born to Daisy and John Tan, both of whom had emigrated—separately—from China to the United States in the late 1940’s. They had met some years earlier but were separated by two things: Daisy was still married to her first husband, and John left for the United States, where he intended to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Fate intervened—Daisy was divorced from her abusive husband, and John sent for her. They were married in California and had three children; Amy was the middle child. Acutely conscious that she was different from her classmates, Tan recalls pinching her nose with a clothespin in an effort to reshape that appendage to look more Caucasian. Like her Asian American peers, Tan was American at school and Chinese at home. Although her mother spoke to her in Chinese, Tan responded in English. The tensions and conflicts produced by her dual heritage eventually found their way into her fiction, which often portrays the generational conflicts in immigrant families.
At fifteen, Tan lost first her older brother and then her father; both died of brain tumors within months of each other. Her mother reacted by leaving California with the remaining children, moving first to the East Coast and then to the Netherlands and Germany, and finally to Switzerland, where Tan graduated from high school.
After returning to the United States, Tan attended several colleges before earning degrees in English and...
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Amy Tan was born to parents who immigrated from China to California two years before she was born, and her work is influenced by the Asian American people and community she knew in her childhood. Each of her novels features characters who have either immigrated from China or who, like Tan, are the children of those immigrants. Like many immigrants to the United States, Tan’s parents had high expectations for their daughter. Tan writes: “I was led to believe from the age of six that I would grow up to be a neurosurgeon by trade and a concert pianist by hobby.” In her first two novels, especially, Tan writes of the pressures her young Chinese American characters feel as they try to meet high parental expectations while also craving a normal carefree childhood.
Tan did not initially plan to be a writer of fiction. She was working long hours as a technical writer, and sought psychological therapy to help her with her workaholic tendencies. When she became dissatisfied with her therapist, who sometimes fell asleep during her sessions, she decided to use fiction writing as her therapy instead.
Tan struggled with her Chinese heritage; as a girl, she contemplated cosmetic surgery to make her look less Asian. She was ashamed of her cultural identity until she moved with her mother and brother to Switzerland, where Tan attended high school. There,...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Amy Ruth Tan was born February 19, 1952, in Oakland, California, to John Tan, a minister and electrical engineer, and Daisy Chan (formerly Tu Ching), a vocational nurse. (Her mother was also a member of a club like the one depicted in Tan’s first novel, The Joy Luck Club). Her parents had moved to the United States from China three years before she was born. When Tan was fifteen, her father and one of her brothers died; her mother took her and her younger brother to Switzerland, where Tan finished high school. Later the family returned to the United States, and Tan attended and graduated from San Jose State University. She married tax attorney Lou DeMattei.
In spite of her considerable literary success, Amy Tan’s writing career was unplanned. After holding various jobs, including work as a consultant to programs for disabled children, reporter, managing editor, associate publisher for Emergency Medicine Reports, freelance writer, and technical writer, Tan sought counseling to learn to curb her workaholic tendencies. When her therapist fell asleep three times during their counseling sessions, however, Tan instead began taking jazz piano lessons and writing fiction as a form of therapy and a way to cut her working hours. She eventually joined the Squaw Valley Community, a fiction writers’ workshop. A short story she wrote, which was...
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IntroductionBorn in 1952 to Chinese immigrant parents, Amy Tan grew up in Northern California. Tan’s mother (the subject of her second novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife) suffered at the hands of a brutal husband whom she eventually divorced. Sadly, she was forced to leave her three daughters behind in China. Tan and her siblings were from her mother’s second marriage in the States. Tan’s first book, The Joy Luck Club, was a phenomenal critical and popular success. In most of her works, she deals unflinchingly with the dynamics of mother/daughter relationships, finding a way to respect the past but live in the present, and to retain a sense of identity for her characters as they attempt to balance the yin and the yang of their Chinese and American selves.
- Defying her mother’s wishes, Tan left the premedical program she had been enrolled in and switched her major to English and linguistics. She graduated with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from San Jose State University in 1974.
- Although she enrolled in a doctoral program, Tan decided to take a job working with mentally challenged children in Alameda, California. She also developed a program for developmentally disabled children during this time.
- Before permanently turning to fiction writing, Amy Tan tried her hand at technical writing.
- When her mother fell ill and seemed near death, Tan promised that she would take her to China to find the daughters her mother was forced to abandon decades earlier. They were reunited, and Tan credits this meeting with helping her see her mother in a new light.
- Amy Tan is a musician in a band called The Rock Bottom Remainders (“remainders” are the books that do not sell and become clearance bin fodder). The other members of the band include humorist Dave Barry, authors Stephen King and Barbara Kingsolver, and Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
Amy Tan - Critical Survey of Long Fiction
Amy Tan Criticism
Amy Tan Short Story Critical Overview
The Joy Luck Club Criticism
The Bonesetter's Daughter Review
The Hundred Secret Senses Magill Book Review
The Hundred Secret Senses Magill's Choice: American Ethnic Writers
The Joy Luck Club Review
Amy Tan began writing fiction as a distraction from her work as a technical writer. A self-proclaimed workaholic, Tan wanted to find a way to relax. She soon discovered that not only did she enjoy writing fiction as a hobby, she liked that it provided a way for her to think about and understand her life.
Tan was born in Oakland, California, in 1952. Her first-generation, Chinese-American parents, John and Daisy Tan, settled in Santa Clara, California. As an adolescent, Tan had difficulty accepting her Chinese heritage. She wanted to look like an American—to be an American. At one point, she even slept with a clothespin on her nose, hoping to change its shape. She deliberately chose American over Chinese whenever she had the opportunity and asserted her independence in any way that she could. She dreamed of being a writer, while her parents saw her as a neurosurgeon and concert pianist.
The Tans lived in Santa Clara until first her father, then her brother, died of brain tumors. Mrs. Tan took Amy and her other brother to live in Switzerland. Amy became even more rebellious, dating a German who was associated with drug dealers and had serious mental problems. Her mother then took the children back to the United States, where Amy enrolled in a Baptist College in Oregon, majoring in premed. After just two semesters there, Amy went with her boyfriend back to California. There she attended San Jose City College as an English and linguistics major....
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Amy Tan was born in 1952 in Oakland, California, to Daisy and John Tan. Her Chinese name, An-mei, means ‘‘Blessing from America,’’ and she is the only daughter in the Tan family. Her parents' experiences as immigrants became the basis of her fiction.
When her father and her older brother died of brain tumors within eight months of each other, Tan's world changed. Her mother returned to her old Chinese beliefs and religious practices and became convinced that the family's house in Santa Clara was cursed. Consequently, she packed up her remaining son and daughter and took them on a rambling tour of the East Coast and Europe. Eventually they settled in Montreux, where Amy attended and graduated from high school.
A rebellious teenager, Tan chafed at her mother's insistence that she attend a conservative Baptist college in Oregon, and she quickly transferred to San Jose City College and then to San Jose State. She further disappointed her mother by changing her major from pre-med to English and linguistics.
By this time, she was married to a tax lawyer and drifting toward a doctoral degree when she decided to pursue other interests. After a couple of false starts she found considerable success as a freelance business writer.
After a period of introspection and a new interest in her mother's life and stories from China, Tan began writing fiction. She found support in a San Francisco writer's group and found an agent...
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Amy Tan was born in 1952 to first-generation Chinese- American parents. At her birth, Tan was given the Chinese name An-Mai, meaning “Blessing of America.” Her father, John, was an electrical engineer and a volunteer Baptist minister who came to America in 1947. Her mother, Daisy, was a medical technician who had fled China in 1949 to escape an unhappy arranged marriage, leaving three daughters behind. In 1967, Tan’s older brother, Peter, died of brain cancer, and, within a year, her father died of the same illness. After consulting a Chinese fortune teller, Daisy left the “evil” house and took her surviving children, Amy and John, to Europe.
The Tans settled in Switzerland, where Amy completed high school. It was an unhappy time for her; she felt like an outsider and was still grieving and angry over the losses in her family. Because being upright had not saved her brother and father, Tan decided to be rebellious and wild. Her friends were drug dealers, and she almost eloped to Australia with a mental patient who claimed to be a German army deserter.
When the Tans moved to Oregon, Daisy chose a college for her daughter and planned her pre-med curriculum. She was deeply disappointed when her daughter changed her major to English. In 1970, Tan moved to California to be closer to her boyfriend, Lou DiMattei. She transferred to San Jose State University and graduated in 1973. The next year, she and DiMattei married, and she received her...
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Tan was born on February 19, 1952, in Oakland, California, two and a half years after her parents emigrated from China. Her father was educated as an engineer in Beijing, but eventually chose to become a Baptist minister. Tan’s mother was the daughter of an upper class family in Shanghai, forced to leave three children behind in China while fleeing an unhappy arranged marriage. During Tan’s teenage years, she lost both her father and brother to brain tumors.
After the passing of her brother and father, Tan’s mother confessed to her that she had two surviving half-sisters who still resided in China. This information would come to be one of many autobiographical elements she would use in her works. Finally receiving the opportunity to meet her sisters in 1987, this became inspiration for the framework of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, published in 1989.
The book received the Commonwealth Club gold award for fiction and the American Library Association’s best book for young adults that same year. In 1990, she received the Bay Area Reviewers Award for fiction and was also a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The film version of The Joy Luck Club premiered in 1993 and became a critically acclaimed film. Tan co-wrote the script and coproduced the film.
In 1991, Tan published her second novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife, which used two heroines (as opposed to...
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