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The Joy Luck Club (1989)

by Amy Tan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,796174253 (3.88)336
In 1949, four Chinese women--drawn together by the shadow of their past--begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club--and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.
Recently added byprivate library, ejmw, michaelholmes, Rennie80, goobertellii
  1. 30
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    Jennie_103: Another story of generations of chinese women.
  2. 10
    The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy (laytonwoman3rd)
    laytonwoman3rd: This novel explores similar themes of the generation gap in immigrant Chinese families---the "old ways" in conflict with the new world.
  3. 11
    Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (sturlington)
  4. 00
    Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong (Imprinted)
  5. 00
    Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West by Helen Tse (elbakerone)
  6. 00
    Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat (Othemts)
    Othemts: In a superficial way this book reminds me of the stories of Amy Tan in that they show the strains of relationships between mothers and daughters, immigrants and American-born.

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» See also 336 mentions

English (161)  Dutch (4)  Catalan (3)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (173)
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
2021 re-read: The way this book is set up, it feels more like a series of vignettes than a complete novel. And honestly, I think I like it better that way: as a series of novellas or novelettes. Some of them I like a lot better than others, but there's only minimal connection between most of the vignettes. In general, I like the stories told by the mothers better. They are more lyrical, more fantastical.

The book as a whole didn't have as big an impact on me this time. It could easily be because I've now read many other works by a much more varied set of authors than I had when I read this for the first time. It could be my stage in life, or the fact that I was reading alone this time instead of having a school group to study the book with like I did the first time. It was still worth the re-read, though, and I plan to read more of Tan's works in the future. Historical/literary fiction isn't normally my cup of tea, so I didn't expect to love this as much as I would have if it was a fantasy. But it was still enjoyable, and I'm glad I picked it up.

Two quick content notes with minor spoilers:
1) there is a reference in the second half of the book to a gay man, and some ugly comments are made. This book was written in the late 80's, during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the US. This doesn't make the comments right, but it does provide context about why they are there.

2) There is a child death and a miscarriage/abortion in this book. One of the characters tells a story that includes her toddler brother drowning. Another tells of losing an unborn baby, but because of how it's told I can't say for sure if it was miscarriage or abortion. Neither story is particularly graphic, but it could be hard to read for those who have triggers of this nature. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | May 27, 2021 |
Superb writing, complex characters and relationships that focus on mothers and daughters in a Chinese-American context. The stories and lives of the main characters are woven together, each told from their perspective. A deep exploration of the un-knowable nature of life stories, even in the most intimate family relationships. Focus on immigrant/emigrant and first-generation experiences. ( )
  TAPearson | May 2, 2021 |
This is mothers and daughters telling their stories. They don't really know each other. This is the real them. Beliefs and traditions play a part. Some went through so much. A lot of what happens is sad. I don't think I took the time with this book that is necessary with each of their stories. It did make me think about the parents, grandparents and immigrants around me and what interesting stories they might have. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Feb 17, 2021 |
I think this book is perfect for read-alongs, book clubs, and college courses because it should be read a little chunk at a time and discussed in detail. There are so many emotions and ideas to process throughout the stories of the four mothers and daughters that I think trying to read the book quickly wouldn't allow the time and space needed to dig in deep. I also think anyone reading this book should be prepared to want to learn more about China's history and culture. What little I already knew was not enough, and The Joy Luck Club prodded me to go in search of that knowledge.

What makes this book one of the top pieces of literary fiction is even when you think Chinese culture is so very different that no one but the Chinese could possibly understand, the struggles that occur between mothers and daughters is relatable no matter where you come from in the world. Am I an expert on Chinese familial relationships? Not a chance. Did I see my mother and myself in those pages? All the time. Amy Tan somehow combines uncomfortable unfamiliarity with the feeling of looking in a mirror. She even has the characters experience this same interchange of emotions as they find themselves realizing how different and yet how similar they are to each other. She also turns myth into reality and vice versa. Somehow she manages all this within the structure of a mahjong game. At the end of every chapter, I would pause for a moment to let what I had read sink in and allow myself to feel astounded. For once, I can safely say that this is a book everyone should read. ( )
  FortifiedByBooks | Jan 5, 2021 |
I really loved this book. I have recommended it to many women over the years and have never heard anything except positive feedback.

I read the book after I saw the movie. The movie was a random thing, it was my birthday and I got to see a free movie and I chose Joy Luck Club even though I knew nothing about the film. It was one of those rare movies that made me cry, so I sought out the book.

When I first read it, I was reading it from the standpoint of being a daughter and thinking about my relationship with my mother. Now that I am a mother myself it means so much more. This book has so much to say about ourselves, our mothers, our daughters, the love we have for one another and how it endures the tests of time and hardships of life.

I gather swan feathers for my daughter, my sister, my mother, my grandmother, all the women in my family who were once tied together by an umbilical cord. The feathers may not come from afar, but they bear all my good intentions. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
In Tan's hands, these linked stories - diverse as they are - fit almost magically into a powerfully coherent novel, whose winning combination of ingredients - immigrant experience, mother-daughter ties, Pacific Rim culture - make it a book with the ``good luck'' to be in the right place at the right time.
In the hands of a less talented writer such thematic material might easily have become overly didactic, and the characters might have seemed like cutouts from a Chinese-American knockoff of ''Roots.'' But in the hands of Amy Tan, who has a wonderful eye for what is telling, a fine ear for dialogue, a deep empathy for her subject matter and a guilelessly straightforward way of writing, they sing with a rare fidelity and beauty. She has written a jewel of a book.

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tan, Amyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lohmann, SabineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mother and the memory of her mother. You asked me once what I would remember. This, and much more.
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The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum.
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Please don't combine with commentaries or educational adaptations
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In 1949, four Chinese women--drawn together by the shadow of their past--begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club--and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.

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