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Why should you read “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan? - Sheila Marie Orfano


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In her Auntie An-mei’s home, Jing-Mei reluctantly takes her seat at the eastern corner of the mahjong table. At the north, south and west corners are her aunties, long-time members of the Joy Luck Club. This gathering is the point of departure for a series of interconnected vignettes in Amy Tan’s debut novel. Sheila Marie Orfano explores why the novel still captivates readers worldwide.

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Meet the members of the Joy Luck Club: four Chinese immigrant women united by shared secrets, grief and visions of a better life. Over dim sum and neatly stacked mah jong pieces, they take stock of their painful pasts, hard-learned lessons, and connections – and disconnections – with their American-born daughters. This modern classic by Amy Tan captures an intimate portrait of family and its often messy, unspoken truths.

Published as her first novel in 1989, the success of The Joy Luck Club shocked Amy Tan. “After all, these were quirky stories, written by an unknown Chinese American author,” she states in an essay for the novel’s 30th anniversary. “And in those days, books that were non-mainstream were termed ‘ethnic.’” The Joy Luck Club has gone on to receive praise from major publications and notable figures in media and literature, such as comedian Margaret Cho and bestselling author Kevin Kwan. In 1993, it was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film directed by Wayne Wang. The film is widely regarded as a pivotal moment for Asian representation in Hollywood.

Amy Tan is also the author of The Kitchen God’s Wife and The Valley of Amazement, among other novels, as well as her memoir, Where the Past Begins. Just like some of her characters in The Joy Luck Club, she was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by Chinese immigrant parents, though she lived in Oakland and white suburbia as opposed to Chinatown.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Sheila Marie Orfano
  • Director Kayu Leung, Alo Trusz
  • Storyboard Artist Kayu Leung
  • Animator Alo Trusz
  • Art Director Kayu Leung, Alo Trusz
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Music Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma

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