National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

To me, imagination is the closest thing we have to compassion. To have compassion you have to be able to imagine the lives of others, including people who are suffering, and people whose lives are affected by us.

Amy Tan, 2003 (Copyright Robert Foothorap)

Writer and teacher Molly Giles is the author of the award-winning short-story collection Rough Translations (1985) and a novel, Iron Shoes (2000). She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Arkansas. Molly is a longtime friend and mentor of Amy Tan as well as an editor of her work.

Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is an acclaimed poet, critic, and literary anthologist. His third collection of poetry, Interrogations at Noon (2001), won the American Book Award. He has also written collections of essays, including Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992; 2002) and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (2004).

Author and musician James McBride is perhaps best known for his acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water (1996). A former staff writer for The Washington Post, he is the author of the novels Miracle at St. Anna (2002) and Song Not Sung (2008). McBride is also a saxophonist and composer, and his work includes the CD The Process, Volume One (2006). He is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

Born in China, Ming-Na and her family immigrated to New York City when she was four years old. Among her many film, television, and stage credits, Ming-Na may be best known for her role as June Woo in the film The Joy Luck Club (1993) and as the title voice of Disney's Mulan (1998) and Mulan II (2005).

Carolyn See's books include the novels Golden Days (1987) and There Will Never Be Another You (2006), and the non-fiction work Making a Literary Life (2002). She earned her PhD in American literature from UCLA, where she has taught English. In addition to the prestigious Robert Kirsch Body of Work Award (1993), See has been honored with Guggenheim and Getty fellowships.

Charles J. Shields, a former teacher, has been a reporter for public radio, a journalist, and the author of non-fiction books for young people. Some of these include Mohandas K. Gandhi, Roald Dahl, and Amy Tan. In 2006, Shields published the biography Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee.

Amy Tan was born in Oakland, California, in 1952, several years after her parents immigrated to the San Francisco Bay area from China. After her first trip to China in 1987, Tan wrote the best-selling novel The Joy Luck Club (1989) in fewer than five months. She co-wrote the screenplay for the 1993 film adaption with Ronald Bass. Other works include The Kitchen God's Wife (1991), The Opposite of Fate (2003), and the children's book The Chinese Siamese Cat (1994).

John Kuo Wei Tchen is a historian and cultural activist. The founding director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute at New York University, Dr. Tchen also co-founded the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (MOCA) in 1980. His award-winning books include Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown (1984) and New York Before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 (1999).

Lijun Wang is one of Amy Tan's older sisters. When their mother left China for America in 1949, she was forced to leave her children behind. Wang and her daughter immigrated to America in 1993.

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