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A success of the past

Amy Tan was born in Oakland, Calif., to first-generation Chinese immigrants. Her father was a hardworking electrical engineer and Baptist minister who died when Tan was only 15 years old.

It was then that she began to discover her family history wasnt as uncomplicated as she had originally inferred, she said. Her grandmother had committed suicide, and her mother had escaped an abusive marriage in China, leaving behind three daughters in her flight to America.

These realizations of identity are what Tan calls her emotional DNA, a discovery of family secrets that have defined who she is as not only a writer, but as a person, she said.

The truth of our past is always revealed in some way, she said. Its something in the personal history that gets revealed without knowing the manifestation of that former trauma, such as my mothers first marriage and abusive husband.

I wanted to know who I was, how I became what I am now, she continued. I think everyone has these questions.

The discovery of her mothers traumatic first marriage and escape became a pivotal experience for the writer, and her retelling would eventually develop into a lead storyline in The Joy Luck Club, which propelled the unknown business writer to literary fame.

The 1989 New York Times bestseller focuses on four Chinese-American families who form a Mahjong club after immigrating to America. The novel is actually a series of 16 interlocking short stories, which focus on the mother-daughter relationship, although this was somewhat unintentional, Tan said.

I don't think of myself as writing about mothers and daughters I write about identity, she said. It just so happens that the strongest relationships had to come from my early life with my mother. And trying to remove what she had proofed upon me, what was inextricable and ironed on like a decal. It will always be there.

But I think what's true with many first novelists. Its natural that it is heavily autobiographical at least emotionally, she continues. Every time I tried to write something different, a story that had nothing to do with my life, my past, those stories would get derailed. So finally, assuming it would not get published, so just wrote what I knew.

 

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Posted in Health and Medical Post Date 01/26/2018


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