Amy Tan on the Importance of Imagined Listeners

June 2, 2021 | 1

At Harpers Bazaar, Alexandra Chang interviews Amy Tan on a recently documentary made about her life, as well as the enduring legacy of her debut novel, The Joy Luck Club. “When I started writing The Joy Luck Club, for some of the stories, I imagined what my mother was trying to say to me,” Tan explains. “One of the stories, ‘Magpies,’ was about the girl who goes to live with her mother and this rich man her mother has married as his fourth wife, who later kills herself after her son was born. That is probably the most factually true story. That was the one where I tried to very much imagine my mother’s voice telling me this story and what it means. It’s been a constant learning experience about the importance of the imagined listener. It has to be somebody who knows what I’m capable of understanding and then helping me to understand.

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

One comment:

  1. Joy Luck Club is more of a collection of linked stories than a novel. “Rules of the Game” in particular has to be among the most anthologized shorts of the last 40 years. Pity she never came close to matching the book’s brilliance again.

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