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The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club

4.3 289
by Amy Tan

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In 1949 four Chinese women-drawn together by the shadow of their past-begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks, eat dim sum, and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club. Nearly forty years later, one of the members has died, and her daughter has come to take her place, only to learn of her mother's lifelong wish-and the


In 1949 four Chinese women-drawn together by the shadow of their past-begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks, eat dim sum, and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club. Nearly forty years later, one of the members has died, and her daughter has come to take her place, only to learn of her mother's lifelong wish-and the tragic way in which it has come true. The revelation of this secret unleashes an urgent need among the women to reach back and remember... In this extraordinary first work of fiction, Amy Tan writes about what is lost-over the years, between generations, among friends-and what is saved.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Intensely poetic, startlingly imaginative and moving, this remarkable book will speak to many women, mothers and grown daughters, about the persistent tensions and powerful bonds between generations and cultures,'' praised PW . Author tour. (June)
Library Journal
What a wonderful book! The ``joy luck club'' is a mah jong/storytelling support group formed by four Chinese women in San Francisco in 1949. Years later, when member Suyuan Woo dies, her daughter June (Jing-mei) is asked to take her place at the mah jong table. With chapters alternating between the mothers and the daughters of the group, we hear stories of the old times and the new; as parents struggle to adjust to America, their American children must struggle with the confusion of having immigrant parents. Reminiscent of Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior in its vivid depiction of Chinese-American women, this novel is full of complicated, endearingly human characters and first-rate story telling in the oral tradition. It should be a hit in any fiction collection.-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
From the Publisher
"Powerful as myth." —The Washington Post Book World

"Beautifully written...a jewel of a book." —The New York Times Book Review

"Powerful...full of magic...you won't be doing anything of importance until you have finished this book." —Los Angeles Times

"Wonderful...a significant lesson in what storytelling has to do with memory and inheritance." —San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books

Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award

Praise for Joy Luck Club:

"Honest, moving, and beautifully courageous. Amy Tan shows us China, Chinese-American women and their families, and the mystery of the mother-daughter bond in ways that we have not experienced before."
—Alice Walker

"Tracing the poignant destinies of two generations of tough, intelligent women, each gorgeously written page welcomes the reader and leads to an enlightenment that, like all true wisdom, sometimes brings pleasure and sometimes sadness."
Chicago Tribune

Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:

"[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering."
Fast Company

“Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers…. Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections.”
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they’re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische’s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen’s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte’s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
—Rex Bonomelli, The New York Times


"Classic reads in stunning covers—your book club will be dying."

Meet the Author

Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck ClubThe Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and two children’s books, The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, which has been adapted as Sagwa, a PBS series for children. Tan was also the coproducer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into more than 25 languages. Tan, who has a master’s degree in linguistics from San Jose University, has worked as a language specialist to programs serving children with developmental disabilities. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.

Brief Biography

San Francisco, California and New York, New York
Date of Birth:
February 19, 1952
Place of Birth:
Oakland, California
B.A., San Jose State University, 1973; M.A., 1974

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The Joy Luck Club (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 289 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Joy Luck Club is a story that portrays the different vignettes of four tenacious Chinese immigrant mothers and their first generation strong American daughters. As a first generation Chinese myself, I could immediately relate to some of the difficulties that the daughters faced, and many of the vignettes of the mothers reminded me of my parents/grandparents stories. The story also gives the reader a glimpse into the life of a typical Chinese lady in the 20th century and introduces the reader to Chinese culture and society. In the book, the daughters often try to be free from the constant nagging of the mother's, and one of the daughters even views her mother as an obstacle she must overcome, her own personal battle. I could really relate to the hard time that the daughters faced, because I myself am used to having my grandpa always comment on everything I do. His complaining would often leave me feeling imprisoned and constrained. I just wanted to get away from everything and anything that had to do with my family. However, through the course of this book I came to realize that the nitpicking of the older generation was just their own unique way of showing their love for their children. Many times, the Chinese daughters are often left confused by their mother's messages. The daughters cannot relate and understand the underlying meaning because of the different cultures that the mothers and daughters come from. While the Chinese culture is a high context culture the American culture is the polar opposite, a low context culture. Often times, the clashing of cultures would lead to confusion and frustration on both sides. I think that another reason why the mothers and daughters have such a difficult time understanding each other is because of the completely different environments that they grew up in. The mother's faced sexism, racism, and the struggle to just simply survive. Often times, the things that they learned growing up became important symbols and lessons that they hoped to pass down to their children. But to the daughters who grew up in an environment where they tried to hide their roots as much as possible, and being Asian was "unfashionable", these messages only helped to widen the gap between mother and daughter. The book illustrates the journey that the mothers and daughters faced trying to understand the different cultures and perspectives of the Chinese and American way of thinking. Chinese people prize filial piety above all other characteristics, and I remember often having to go to temples to pay my respects to my ancestors and that I could not talk back to my elders. In one of the stories, the Joy Luck Club is having a crab dinner. Since everyone immediately grabbed the largest and juiciest crabs, the hosts, Suyuan (mother), and Jing-mei (daughter), are left with the last two crabs. Jing-mei knows that one of the crabs was dead before they bought it, which is bad luck in Chinese culture, so she willingly grabs the dead crab so that her mother may enjoy the tastier crab. This is a very good example of filial piety, while everyone else is greedy, and hopes for the best for themselves, the daughter is being respectful by leaving the better crab for her mother. I specifically remembered this story from the book because I think that if I was in the same position as Jing-mei I would have taken the better crab for myself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the most enlighting, purest books ever! I loved it from the beginning it shows you the powerful bond between mothers and daughters 'cheesy I know but true!'. It shows hardship, passion, and experience. It showed me what mothers are capable of and what they would do to protect their children, and it inspired me to be in English Honors as well as a possible future writer...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow is what I have to say about this book if I had to describe it in one word. I'm a senior in high school and my english teacher gave it to me because we are going to read it later in the year but I read it early. I started on the first page and couldn't stop. I have never read a lot like this, I read all 336 pages in two days, in school, after school, whenever I had the chance. I LOVE the way Amy Tan wrote this book, the vignettes are so beautiful and touching. I found myself really feeling for the characters in the book. I am mesmorized, I feel the most unexplainable feeling of happiness and sadness since I have read it. I can't wait to read it again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is really a great book to read, because of the lessons behind each story. Eight unique women from two generations and each have a story to tell. The joy luck club is a book that different type of people will enjoy and get to learn in the process. It allows readers to travel to China and learn some of the customs. It also touches the different types of loves that exist in the world such as the love for the family or the love for a partner. It really is a fun book to read and some might even shed a tear or two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With stories of the past, relationships between the mothers and daughters show a gap of no understanding. The recent death of Suyuan Woo's mother, Jing Mei "June" Woo, causes questions to pop up after her passing. The questions leave blanks in what is to be contrasted in similarities and differences. It made the daughters think in a new light of how there mothers were, and showed a better understanding of their actions and words. The mothers tell tales of their culture, and how different it is from what their daughters now know in America. While Suyuan is reviewing over her mother's life from her aunts, she makes realizations of what her mother had done in life, and what she must do to grant her mother's dead dream. In the expressions of the mothers, a most common fact to find was that they would relate themselves often to their daughters, and would predict or describe in greater meaning, events that occur. The mother's described struggles and hardships that they went through in their youth. Most often, the daughters would misunderstand the message of what the mothers were telling them. The lessons and morals in their stories brought out a new point of view. A memorable experience I had while reading this book was the new found information on what China was like, and I shared some views on how there had to be sacrifices in order to gain what was thought as endless riches, and freedom.
Kelli_S More than 1 year ago
Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club is a realistic novel emphasizing Chinese heritage. It tells the stories of four families, four mothers: Suyuan Woo, An-mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-Ying St. Clair, and their four daughters: Jing-mei Woo, Rose Hsu, Waverly Jong, and Lena St. Clair---each story telling the past of each mother and how their daughters live now. All four of these families are joined together by the Joy Luck Club---a club that meets weekly and plays mahjong. One mother dies, and her daughter, Jing-mei, is on a quest to uncover something that her mom left behind in China. Another was married off as a child, but escapes. Another raises a chess-playing champion. I thought this book was a really great read, but somewhat confusing to follow, considering each chapter is not from the same perspective as the previous one. When I began a chapter about one of the daughters, I would have to go back and review who their mother is and what they did. I believe that the theme of the book is family heritage, and would be great for daughters to read with their moms. This book is only 288 pages long, but I found it difficult to hold my attention for long periods of time. Overall, I would give The Joy Luck Club 3 stars out of five; interesting, yet difficult to keep up with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It would be much more enjoyable if i didnt have to write a report
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan was a very slow read and I had a very difficult time getting into the story. What was interesting to me was that the women were so rude to one another although there were glimpses of kindness. These women lived in difficult times, indured injustice and yet they didn't support one another with graciousness. Amy Tan reveals the Chinese culture and the difficult transition from China to America. This story begs the question "How well do you really know your mother?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting I liked how it dealt with family. In the beginning it was about mother and daughters and their relationship.It shows creation and passion and keeps readers interested. There are different kinds of lessons to learn in this book. It is really just a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book tells about China at that time related to the lives of four women and how they try to inherit their memories and lessons to their daughters. The memory, experience, and lessons captured my mind. This book reveals the hidden lives of Chinese immigrants and it tells us how China has developed from the period when the mothers lived, up to the period when their daughters lived. The style of writing by Amy Tan was surely a fresh experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I really enjoyed reading it. I had to finish it in one sitting because I just couldn't stop. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good book about culture, family, and drama.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was just as good as the movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently read this for my AP English class, and I enjoyed it. It was pretty interesting, not my first choice as far as literature goes, but still good. Interesting dynamics.
booknut79 More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of my all time favorite books. The characters and settings seem to just come alive. You'll get lost in the story wanting to find out what happens next. So many lessons and messages are hidden within the stories that span all races and age groups. I fell in love with the book a long time ago and find myself reading it again and again and each time finding something I had missed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
not super-impressed. had trouble keeping characters straight. kinda slow. ending predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many stories within the stories it was very hard to put it down. I wish the book had told even more! It really got you to FEEL how these women felt! I highly recommend it to women of all ages. I gave this max stars, but I'm having trouble sending it with the stars showing.
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I am starting freshman year in the fall and I selected this novel as one of my choice novels. I chose this book because I was interested in learning about Chinese culture. Each country or race has an individual culture that is unique to themselves, and this book does an incredible job of describing the special characteristics of Chinese culture. This book also satisfied my love of historical fiction.  I would recommend this novel to another high school reader because it contains not just one, but many individual stories describing the childhood, adolescence, and maturing of the women who started the Joy Luck Club, and their daughters. Each talks about their personal struggles, their joys, and their inner thoughts and feelings during different points of their lives. It's a novel that you can relate to, but it's also a novel that can draw you in with the haunting ideas of what some of the women had to go through. Also, it shows how important the strong bond between mothers and daughters is, and also makes clear the similarities and differences between them. Overall, I would recommend this book because it is not only fascinating and relatable, it is also a source of knowledge about family, overcoming obstacles in life, and Chinese culture. Also, because the book is comprised of many shorter stories, you won't lose interest in the book as a whole even if one of the stories is uninteresting to you.  This text met my expectations as a novel because I was looking for a novel that was historical and relatable, a book that you would be able to read without getting bored. This book not only fulfilled my expectations, it exceeded them. The Joy Luck Club is a book that will connect the reader with the lives of eight women, and will let the reader experience each of their struggles and triumphs. It helped me to gain a better understanding of Chinese culture, both modern and ancient. This book is definitely one-of-a-kind and I would recommend it to anyone who is as interested as I am in understanding culture and the importance of family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, instructive history from beginning to end - and to be followed with the movie! A captivating classic full of beautifully delivered messages to inspire all types of readers for years to come Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago