Amy Tan, an accomplished Chinese-American author, is well-known for her incorporation of her Chinese heritage into her works of literature.
Amy Ruth Tan was born to John and Daisy Tan on February 19, 2952 (“Amy Tan Biography”). Although Amy Tan’s parents were both born in China, she was American born. Daisy Tan was born to a wealthy family in Shanghai, China. John Tan, on the other hand, was an electrical engineer and Baptist minister. Amy Tan’s parents met in a dangerous decade of the 1940’s in China while battles were being fought on all fronts. John Tan was working for the United States Information Service during WWII, which made it fairly easy for him to escape China for the U.S. when the war ended. Daisy Tan, however, was not as fortunate; she had been imprisoned. She escaped in 1949 right before the Communist takeover; she left on the last boat to deport from Shanghai to the U.S. Shortly after Daisy arrived in the U.S., her and John Tan arranged to be married. Amy Tan’s parents had two other children besides her; they were John Jr. and Peter Tan. The Tan clan moved around many times while Amy Tan was growing up, finally settling in Santa Clara, California (Chatfield-Taylor 190).
Growing up in California, Tan continued to embrace the typical values of Americans. She had taken on American values as her own identity, completely ignoring most of her Chinese heritage. In fact, young Amy Tan would answer her mother’s Chinese questions in English (Miller 1162). Teenage Amy Tan lost both her father and sixteen-year-old brother to brain tumors. Soon after that, she learned that she had two half-sisters in China from her mother’s first marriage (“Amy Tan Biography”). In 1987, Tan made a trip to China to meet those very same sisters. “I didn’t take notes there, because I wanted to experience China as a person meeting her sisters for the first time, not as a writer,” Tan says. Nonetheless, her writing flourished when she returned to the United States (Chatfield-Taylor 203).
Formerly, Tan had been working as a language development consultant for disabled children. She tried her hand at a few other jobs after that, including being a freelance business writer. Dissatisfaction and boredom led her to find comfort in writing fiction. Her first short story was published in 1986, marking the beginning of what proved to be a successful career (Chatfield-Taylor 191). When she returned from the United States from the meeting of her sisters, Tan began writing The Joy Luck Club. She was in her thirties by this time (Chatfield-Taylor 190). The Joy Luck Club was published in 1989, and has been followed by The Kitchen God’s Wife in 1991, The Hundred Secret Senses in 1995, and The Opposite of Fate in 2003 (Miller 1162).
It is no secret that Amy Tan’s literary career was not planned; it was, in fact, a form of therapy. (“Amy Tan Biography”) Her mother greatly contributed to her literary career in several ways. A trip to China with her mother opened Amy...