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When The Joy Luck Club was first published almost 25 years ago it immediately struck a chord. The story of four iron-willed Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters, it sold more than two million copies and was made into a popular movie. It also signaled the arrival of an important new voice: Amy Tan.
But as gifted as she is as a storyteller, Tan’s own family story is almost unimaginable. When she was just 16, and growing up in Switzerland, Tan had a cleaver held to her throat by her mother after a huge fight. Amy’s mom and grandmother had both endured hellish times back in Shanghai (both enduring sexual abuse). In the end, Tan’s grandmother took her own life.
In fact, it was a photo of her grandmother that helped inspire Amy’s new novel, The Valley of Amazement, an epic that spans more than 40 years, two continents and the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty.