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"Sisterly Bond" On Amy Tan's "The Hundred Secret Senses." Analysis Of Literary Criticism And Summary Of Book.

1030 words - 4 pages

In 1996, acclaimed novelist Amy Tan daringly published an entrancing new book called "The Hundred Secret Senses". Her most polished work to date, it told a sensuous, captivating, and unforgettable story of the deep and unbreakable sisterly bond between Olivia Yee/Laguni/Bishop and her very irritating, yet exceptionally affectionate half-sister Kwan. Tan encrypted into her bittersweet narrative the meaning of loyalty, sisterhood, fate, friendship, the supernatural, and extraordinary love. Drawing from experiences in her life, such as her eye opening trips to China, the violent murder of her best friend, and later, the death of her mentor and mother, Tan wove a breathtaking of two sisters and their connection through centuries. The critics, however, saw both the good and bad sides of the story and had mixed reviews. Some truly enjoyed Hundred and liked the new direction Tan had taken, while some scoffed at the supernatural concept and felt that Tan's newest work pales in comparison to The Joy Luck Club, which spent eight months on The New York Times' best-sellers list (Academy). I, however, agree with the more positive reviews in that Hundred is definitely a new direction for Tan, but nevertheless, an immensely enjoyable new outtake that I love.The Hundred Secret Senses tells the story of Olivia Bishop, a "modern American" (Hundred 6) and half-sister Kwan, one of the most memorable characters ever created. Apparently, Kwan had "yin eyes" (Hundred 1) and could see ghosts from the past. Olivia, "skeptical [and] logical" (Adams), did not seriously believe in the tales Kwan told late at night of Chinese ghosts stories. However, Hundred relies heavily on supernatural themes. Parallel to the story of Olivia and Kwan is the tale of Nunumu and her best friend, Miss Banner, set in 19th century China. It is not evident until near the end of the novel what the connection is between Kwan and Olivia of 20th century American and Nunumu and Miss Banner of 19th century China. Olivia finally sees at the end of the novel, that she is Miss Banner and Kwan has been her dedicated and loving friend for an entire century. It is this point, and the question of whether ghosts and reincarnation can be believed, that the critics have attacked. Nevertheless, the story revolves around the concept of the supernatural. According to an interview conducted with Tan, "her life has been so marked by quirks of fate that she has gradually come to believe, as her Chinese mother does, that there are things in the world that can't be explained rationally" (Lyall). In fact, Tan has said that this novel "is a kind of coming out for her, because it all but concludes that the supernatural is real" (Lyall). In fact, incidences like the strange occurrence where her friend Pete dreamed in detail of his murder before it happened exactly that way (Opposite 124) that made Tan say, "My subconscious is open to the idea of something beyond the normal senses" (Lyall).Many, critics, however, were not...

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