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TAN Amy

United States / China

Saving Fish from Drowning (Ballantine Books, 2005)

Amy TAN
©D. R.

Born in the US to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan failed her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She settled on writing fiction. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning, all New York Times bestsellers and the recipient of various awards. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, and numerous articles for magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, and National Geographic. Her work has been translated into 35 languages, from Spanish, French, and Finnish to Chinese, Arabic, and Hebrew.

Ms Tan served as Co-producer and Co-screenwriter with Ron Bass for the film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club. She was the Creative Consultant for Sagwa, the Emmy-nominated television series for children, which has aired worldwide, including in the UK, Latin America, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Her story in the New Yorker, “Immortal Heart,” was performed on stages throughout the US and in France. Her essays and stories are found in hundreds of anthologies and textbooks, and they are assigned as “required reading” in many high schools and universities. She appeared as herself in the animated series “The Simpsons.” She performed as narrator with the San Francisco Symphony and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra playing an original score for “Sagwa” by composer Nathan Wang.

Ms Tan has lectured internationally at universities, including Stanford, Oxford, Jagellonium, Beijing, and Georgetown both in Washington DC and Doha, Qatar. The National Endowment for the Arts has chosen The Joy Luck Club for its 2007 “Big Read” program. Ms Tan also serves as the Literary Editor for the Los Angeles Times magazine, West.

Her current work includes writing a new novel, collaborating on an original television pilot with director Wayne Wang and co-writer Ron Bass, and creating, with Stewart Wallace as composer, the libretto for The Bonesetter’s Daughter, which premieres in September 2008 with the San Francisco Opera. Ms Tan’s other musical work for the stage is limited to serving as lead rhythm dominatrix, backup singer, and second tambourine with the literary garage band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose members include Stephen King, Dave Barry, and Scott Turow. In spite of their dubious talent, their yearly gigs have managed to raise over a million dollars for literacy programs.

In french

Author’s website


Bibliography :

  • Saving Fish from Drowning (Ballantine Books, 2005)
  • The Joy Luck Club (Penguin Books, 2005)
  • The Kitchen God’s Wife (Penguin Books, 2004)
  • The Opposite of Fate : Memories of a Writing Life (Penguin Books, 2003)
  • The Bonesetter’s Daughter (Ballantine Books, 2003)

A summery of Saving Fish from Drowning :

When Amy Tan walks into a bookstore and reads from her work, the audience is enthralled by her very presence. But an audio recording is an art form and a performance, not an author appearance. Some authors excel as performers—for example, Simon Brett performs his Murder in the Museum with aplomb —but Tan is not gifted with an actor’s range. Alone in a studio, Tan does not do justice to her own work. Words melt when Tan drops her voice at the end of sentences—and even in the middle. It sounds as if she is rocking back and forth in front of the microphone, or perhaps looking down and away from the mike to study the text. She is also unable to produce different voices for her characters. The narrator who finds Bibi Chen’s writings (via a psychic) sounds exactly like Bibi herself. The comments of Bibi’s ghost on the ill-fated trip of several of her friends in China and Myanmar are clearly meant to be humorous, but this, too, doesn’t come across in Bibi’s voice. As a writer, Tan has a well-deserved following. Hopefully, she will leave future recordings to someone who can give her novels the breadth they deserve.