Amy Tan: A Critical Companion

Overview

Amy Tan has established a reputation as a major novelist of not only the Asian American experience but the universal experience of family relationships. With the publication of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club in 1988, which touched the hearts of millions of readers, Tan joined the ranks of major contemporary novelists. Adapting her brand of Chinese traditional talk story as a vehicle for exploring the lives of the mothers and daughters at the center of her novels, Tan allows readers to experience the lives of ...

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Overview

Amy Tan has established a reputation as a major novelist of not only the Asian American experience but the universal experience of family relationships. With the publication of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club in 1988, which touched the hearts of millions of readers, Tan joined the ranks of major contemporary novelists. Adapting her brand of Chinese traditional talk story as a vehicle for exploring the lives of the mothers and daughters at the center of her novels, Tan allows readers to experience the lives of her characters from multiple perspectives in parallel and intersecting narratives. In this first full-length study of her work, E.D. Huntley explores the fictional worlds Tan has created in her three novels, The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, and The Hundred Secret Senses.

A biographical chapter discusses the relationship of Tan with her own mother and its influence and that of her family on the subject matter of her novels. A chapter on Tan's literary heritage places her squarely in the tradition of Asian American literature. Each novel is discussed in a separate chapter and includes sections on plot development, character development, narrative structure, literary devices, setting, and major themes. Each chapter also includes an alternative critical reading from which to approach the novel to help readers see the novel in a different light. A complete bibliography of Tan's writings, writings about her work, and a list of reviews of each novel completes the work. This study is the ideal guide for students and readers of Tan's novels.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Hilary S. Crew
Written by scholars for the general reader, titles in the Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers series offer biographical information and close literary analyses of the works of popular writers who have been chosen for inclusion by high school English teachers and high school and public librarians. Authors included in the series are Tom Clancy, James Herriot, Anne McCaffrey, Toni Morrison, Anne Tyler, and Leon Uris. Each title follows a uniform format: a biographical chapter, a chapter placing an author's work within the context of a literary map, chapters that analyze in-depth the most important works of an author, followed by an extensive bibliography. In her study of Amy Tan, Huntley provides a substantive account of the Asian American literary tradition describing concerns about biculturalism that Tan shares with other Asian American writers, as well as explaining the universality of Tan's work. In her analyses of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, and The Hundred Secret Senses, Huntley emphasizes Tan's "folk-story" narrative style and her employment of multiple genres and narratives. In keeping with the other titles in the series, Huntley looks at plot and character development, narrative structure, setting, major themes, and issues for each of the novels analyzed. A distinctive feature of the series is the alternative readings provided for significant works using different theoretical and critical approaches. Huntley, for example, employs cultural criticism for another reading of the The Joy Luck Club and feminist criticism for The Kitchen God's Wife. Carmean's study of Ernest Gaines follows a similar pattern of analysis but focuses on point of view, plot, themes, and particularly on Gaines's development of character for six of Gaines's novels plus Bloodlines, a collection of short stories. Carmean places Gaines within the tradition of literary realism and also discusses his place within the tradition of Southern writers. Carmean, like Huntley, provides alternative readings for each novel, including a Marxist reading of Of Love and Dust and a psychological reading of In My Father's House. Huntley and Carmean explain, with care, the literary terms and approaches that they employ so that their examinations are also useful for studying literary theories and criticism. A very useful series for high school students in terms of approach, scholarship, and choice of subjects. Index. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading. Note: This review was written and published to address two titles: Ernest J. Gaines: A Critical Companion, and Amy Tan: A Critical Companion. VOYA Codes: 5Q 2P S (Hard to imagine it being better written, For the YA reader with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Booknews
Explores the fictional worlds that Chinese-American writer Tan has created in her three novels, , , and . Examines her characters, narrative strategies, plot development, literary devices, setting, and major themes. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Acknowledgments
1 The Life of Amy Tan 1
2 Amy Tan and Asian American Literature 19
3 The Joy Luck Club (1988) 41
4 The Kitchen God's Wife (1991) 79
5 The Hundred Secret Senses (1995) 113
Bibliography 151
Index 161
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