Celebrating Women’s History Month about writer and novelist Amy Tan

CJ Coombs

The first time I read The Joy Luck Club, I was so moved by the writing of the emotional experiences of women. Naturally, when the movie came out four years after the book was released, it was a chance to be inside the book again.


Amy Ruth Tan was born on February 19, 1952, in Oakland, California. Tan is a Chinese American writer and novelist.

Tan lost her father and older brother to brain tumors within a year of each other in the mid-1960s while growing up in Northern California. She and her mother along with her young brother then moved to Europe.

Tan attended high school in Montreux, Switzerland and attended college after returning to the United States. She attended the following colleges: (1) Linfield College in Oregon, (2) San Jose City College, (3) San Jose State University, (4) University of California at Santa Cruz, and (5) University of California at Berkeley. That’s a lot of education.

Tan married Lou DeMattei, a tax attorney, in 1974.

Writing ‘The Joy Luck Club’

When Tan was finished with college, she began working as a language development consultant and corporate freelance writer. The first book Tan wrote was in 1985 entitled Rules of the Game written for a writing workshop. This project helped to build the momentum for her novel, The Joy Luck Club, which was published in 1989 when she was 37. The Guardian published Ghosts on my Shoulder in 2001 which outlines the trauma Tan experienced in her life.

In the article, Tan also discusses the trauma experienced by the women before her, namely her mother in China. In The Joy Luck Club, Tan performs wonderfully with her writing in describing the relationship between a Chinese American daughter and her Chinese mother. It was a thought-provoking read; it was an emotional read. This novel would go on to be printed in 25 different languages.

In 1993, the major motion picture of The Joy Luck Club was directed by Wayne Wang and "cornered what Time magazine saw as burgeoning US interest in 'growing up ethnic'." (Source.) Tan also co-wrote the screenplay.

The Joy Luck Club examined the relationships of women who were Chinese and their Chinese American daughters. This book was the longest-running novel in 1989 on The New York Times bestseller list that year. Tan’s book received several awards including the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

Additional writing by Tan

Tan has had two other books on the New York Times Bestseller List: The Kitchen God's Wife published in 1991 and The Hundred Secret Senses published in 1995.

Other novels include the following:

  • The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001)
  • Saving Fish From Drowning (2005)
  • The Valley of Amazement (2013)
  • The Moon Lady (Children's book; 1992) and
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (Children's book; 1994).

Tan started a blog in 2017 entitled “Things I do when I’m not writing: the art of procrastination” where she writes about other likes and passions. It only includes three posts.

In 2008, she gave a TED talk that can be viewed below:

Lyme Disease

Tan also wrote about her experience with Lyme Disease on her website which she contracted in 1998 that is well-worth the interesting read. Near the conclusion of her piece, she included the below:

In 1975, Lyme Disease was named after the town of Lyme in Connecticut. People then thought it was a local disease, as if the bacteria resided only there. Today, you could nickname that bacteria after thousands of cities. Where I live, 'there is no Lyme'–or so most people would say if you asked. I know otherwise. A friend biked up to the top of Hawk Hill, sat on a wooden log, and picked up a tick. He was positive for Lyme disease. Reporting of Lyme is incomplete, so if you are relying on reports, you are relying on unreliability. Lyme disease is now the fastest-growing vector-born disease in the country. Much more is needed to know how to diagnose it and how to treat it. Source.

In 2014, The Wall Street Journal published Amy Tan with Joy and Luck at Home - The novelist builds a home she can grow old in. Tan wanted a home "to feel open and airy, like a tree house, but also to be a place where we could live comfortably into old age."

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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