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The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan
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Is The Joy Luck Club a true story?

No, The Joy Luck Club is not a true story, but a work of fiction. While there was an actual Joy Luck Club, the people and events of the book are not true. The book is based, however, on experiences and feelings Tan did have growing up as a Chinese American, so it is fair to say it represents a kind of emotional truth.

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The Joy Luck Club is not, strictly speaking, "true" in the sense that it is explicitly autobiographical. None of the characters are meant to be Tan, and Tan herself has been consistent in debunking the idea that the chess-playing girl, for instance, might be her or that any of the...

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The Joy Luck Club is not, strictly speaking, "true" in the sense that it is explicitly autobiographical. None of the characters are meant to be Tan, and Tan herself has been consistent in debunking the idea that the chess-playing girl, for instance, might be her or that any of the mothers is her mother. It is a work of fiction.

It is "true," however, in the sense that the mothers and their relationships with each other and their daughters are inspired by family friends who did, in fact, belong to a social circle in San Francisco known as "The Joy Luck Club," although Tan herself grew up in the suburbs.

It is also emotionally true, in that the relationships between mother and daughter in the book are fictionalized representations of the way Tan has felt or things that have happened to her. So, while Tan has never played chess personally, the pain and confusion the chess-playing daughter feels when her mother withdraws her love and support comes from a real place within Tan, who experienced the same thing as a girl. Or, in another example, although her mother never abandoned children by the side of the road, she did leave three daughters in the care of her ex-husband when she came to America, half-sisters Tan did not know about for years.

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