Amy Tan American Literature Analysis
Tan uses first-person narratives as the basis of her first three books. The Joy Luck Club was conceived and written as a collection of short stories, but early reviewers erroneously began to call it a novel. Her publisher carefully skirted the issue by referring to Tan’s “first work of fiction” on the book jacket.
The book is composed of sixteen related stories narrated by three mothers and four daughters. It recalls such loosely structured works as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919), William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1930), and Erdrich’s Love Medicine, which feature individual narratives that together reflect a culture or a period. Tan organizes The Joy Luck Club in terms of the contrast between generations—two sections in the voices of the Chinese-born mothers and two in the voices of their California-born daughters. The exception is June Woo, whose mother, Suyuan, founder of the Joy Luck Club, has just died. June’s voice is heard in all four sections of the book.
Tan’s second book, The Kitchen God’s Wife, is constructed like a traditional novel, following one major story line. It is narrated by two voices—three chapters by daughter Pearl and all others by mother Winnie Louie, who tells Pearl of her earlier life. This is a book of revelations, illuminated vertically as well as horizontally, for things are never what they seem. When characters think they know...
(The entire section is 3186 words.)
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