Tuesday, February 4, 2014

210: The Self-Empowered Woman: Amy Tan

Dear Followers,


Are you one of Amy Tan's loyal fans? Millions of readers have turned her books--novels, non-fiction and children's books--into instant best sellers. Tan was born in Oakland, California on February 19th, 1952. Her parents--Daisy and John--were Chinese immigrants, and she is the second of three children. Her father was an electrical engineer and a Baptist minister (3: Belief In The Unbelievable). When Amy was fifteen years old, her older brother (Peter) and her father both died of brain tumors within the same year (1: No Paternal Safety Net).
Amy's mother moved her and her younger brother (John, Jr.) to Switzerland, which is where Amy finished high school. During this time she and her mother did not get along, but this is when Amy first learned about Daisy's earlier heart-wrenching life in China. The story of Daisy's first marriage to an abusive man, the birth of her children, and the fact that she had to leave those children behind in Shanghai (when she escaped on the last boat to leave before the Communist takeover in 1949). Her mother's life events served as the basis for Amy's first best-selling novel, 1989's The Joy Luck Club (8: Turning No Into Yes).
Amy's mother had wanted her to attend a Baptist college, and study to become a doctor. Instead, she chose to study English and linguistics (17: Dreaming Your Own Dream). Amy received her bachelor's and master's degrees (in those subjects) from San Jose State University, and then worked on her doctorate in linguistics--first at UC Santa Cruz, and then at Berkeley (10: The Critic Within).
In 1976, she took a job as a language development consultant, where she directed a training project for developmentally disabled children. Next she started a business writing firm, and created speeches for corporate executives and business salesmen. She then began working as a business writer, and finally started writing short stories (11: Risk Addiction). Amy's short fiction earned the attention of magazines like Seventeen and literary agent Sandra Dijkstra.
As a child, Amy's parents had forced her to study piano, and as an adult she switched to jazz piano. As a successful author, she became part of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a band made up of authors with varying musical skills. Her band mates included Dave Berry, Stephen King and Barbara Kingsolver  (9: Music). 
In 1989, The Joy Luck Club (which had received a $50,000 advance from G. P. Putnam's Sons) was completed in a little over four months. It spent eight months on The New York Times bestseller list, and the paperback rights were sold for $1.23 million. The book has been translated into 17 languages, and in 1991, she finished The Kitchen Gods Wife. Her other novels include Saving Fish From Drowning, The Hundred Secret Sentences, The Bonesetter's Daughter and The Valley of Amazement.
She has also written two children's books (The Moon Lady and The Sagwa), and an autobiography titled The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings, as well as several other non-fiction books. She has received a variety of writing awards, from the National Endowment for the Arts, to the American Library Association and the Academy of Achievement (13: More Than Meets the Eye). 
In 2003, she wrote about her struggle with Lyme disease, which went undiagnosed for years and left her with physical pain, mental impairment and seizures. She now suffers from epilepsy as a result of the 16 lesions in her brain that developed due to the disease. During her struggle with Lyme disease, she was unable to read or write until (four years later) she found a doctor who prescribed a course of antibiotics that currently keep her symptoms at bay (12: Hard Times).
Looking forward to your comments...

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