The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Vintage (Paperback), 1989
288 Pages

Author’s Website

This book is part of my Popsugar Reading Challenge 2015. The category for this book is ‘a book set in a different country’.


Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.


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.


This is my first time reading Amy Tan. I loved The Joy Luck Club. It was a lovely book. I really enjoyed the structure of the novel. The novel is split into sections with so many chapters per section. The first chapter establishes what The Joy Luck Club actually is and the other chapters are various tales the women tell each other around the table. Some of the tales are about the women and the other tales are about their daughters. The Joy Luck Club is a book that deals with experience of Chinese immigrants and their daughters. I loved the way Tan explores cultural disjoints and fragmented, fractured lives. Some of the women’s experiences are really quite heart-breaking. I found the contrast of the mother and daughter’s experience quite sad. The daughters were raised in a Western society and painfully removed from their mother’s often sad and harrowing experiences. This disconnection is the core of the novel. I’d recommend The Joy Luck Club to anyone. I want to read more of Tan’s work.




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