The Joy Luck Club: A Novel
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Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.
With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.
hair, I had a sly thought. I asked her, “Ma, what is Chinese torture?” My mother shook her head. A bobby pin was wedged between her lips. She wetted her palm and smoothed the hair above my ear, then pushed the pin in so that it nicked sharply against my scalp. “Who say this word?” she asked without a trace of knowing how wicked I was being. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Some boy in my class said Chinese people do Chinese torture.” “Chinese people do many things,” she said simply. “Chinese
Seventeen years ago she was chagrined when I started dating Ted. My older sisters had dated only Chinese boys from church before getting married. Ted and I met in a politics of ecology class when he leaned over and offered to pay me two dollars for the last week’s notes. I refused the money and accepted a cup of coffee instead. This was during my second semester at UC Berkeley, where I had enrolled as a liberal arts major and later changed to fine arts. Ted was in his third year in pre-med, his
pointing to the mirror. “Look inside. Tell me, am I not right? In this mirror is my future grandchild, already sitting on my lap next spring.” And the daughter looked—and haule! There it was: her own reflection looking back at her. LENA ST. CLAIR Rice Husband To this day, I believe my mother has the mysterious ability to see things before they happen. She has a Chinese saying for what she knows. Chunwang chihan: If the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold. Which means, I suppose, one
it would rain because lost ghosts were circling near our windows, calling “Woo-woo” to be let in. She said doors would unlock themselves in the middle of the night unless we checked twice. She said a mirror could see only my face, but she could see me inside out even when I was not in the room. And all these things seemed true to me. The power of her words was that strong. She said that if I listened to her, later I would know what she knew: where true words came from, always from up high,
Matthew also chip in some. You have money?” “Yes, Ted sent me a check.” Then the minister asked everyone to bow in prayer. My mother was quiet at last, dabbing her nose with Kleenex while the minister talked: “I can just see her now, wowing the angels with her Chinese cooking and gung-ho attitude.” And when heads lifted, everyone rose to sing hymn number 335, China Mary’s favorite: “You can be an an-gel, ev-ery day on earth ...” But my mother was not singing. She was staring at me. “Why does