Amy Tan was born in Oakland, California, on February 19, 1952. She grew up in Fresno, Oakland, Berkeley, and the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her father was educated in Beijing and immigrated to America in 1947 and became a Baptist minister, and her mother, forced to leave behind three children from a previous marriage, immigrated to the U.S. in 1949 shortly after the Communists took control of China Her father and older brother died from brain tumors when she was fourteen, and soon after this tragedy, Amy, her mother, and her younger brother moved to Europe, where Amy graduated from high school in Montreux, Switzerland in 1969.
From 1969 to 1976, Amy Tan attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, where she met her husband, Lou DeMattei; San Jose City College; San Jose University, where she received a bachelor's degree in English and Linguistics; University of California/Santa Cruz; and University of California/Berkeley.
Originally, Amy Tan had not planned to be a writer. After graduating from college, she worked as a language development consultant to programs serving developmentally disabled children and as a freelance business writer for big-name corporations. In 1985, Tan wrote the story "Rules of the Game" for a writing workshop, and the story became incorporated into The Joy Luck Club as part of Waverly Jong's story. The Joy Luck Club(1989) was her first work of fiction, and it was on the New York Times bestseller list for longer than any other book in 1989. It was a finalist for the National Reviewers Award for Fiction and the Commonwealth Club Gold Award, and it won the L.A. Times Book Award in 1989. Her other two books, The Kitchen God's Wife and The Hundred Secret Senses, have also appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and all her works have been translated into many different languages. She has also written other stories, narratives, and even children's books, such as The Chinese Siamese Cat. Amy Tan has been married to her husband, Lou DeMattei, for over twenty years, and they have a cat named Sagwa and a dog named Mr. Zo. They live in San Francisco and New York. From what I know so far, Ms. Tan is not currently working on a new novel.
The book is divided in stories that have as conductive thread a club formed an emigrant old woman, her friends and the husbands of them.
The book starts with the obligation of one of the daughters of occupying their mother place in the table of mah jong. The first series of stories talks about the youth's memories of three old women and the daughters telling her mother's life, the second series talks about the daughters of these women, In the third group of stories the four daughters narrate their adult dilemmas and the forth and the last series talks about the women again. Each series has four stories or personal stories of each member of the club or of her daughter.
In the first series, the first story talks about the creation of the Joy Luck Club for the mother of Jing-mei, first in China and then in America.
The second story talks about the memories of one of the old women, An-mei, and the prohibition of seeing her mother and how she knew her mother when she saw her again, she knew her for a scar that was made when she was very little in the throat with hot soup.
The third story counted by Lindo Jong, are since they promise Lindo to marriage with a rich and important boy until she is able to annul the marriage leaning on the archaic beliefs of the Chinese ancestors.
The last story of the first series is counted by Ying-ying, talks about how she got lost during the celebration of the Lady of the Moon and how she loses her faith with she was four years.
In the second series , the first story is of Waverly Jong, daughter of Lindo, talks about how she starts to play chess and to win her first championships, first against her rivals and then against her mother.
The second story is of Lena, daughter of Ying-ying, and talks about when they were moved from Chinatown to Italian neighborhood. She hears through the wall of her room a daughter and her mother discussed arduously and how the mother loses her son and how affect to them.
The third story is written by Rode, daughter of An-mei, and talks about she would getting divorced and her mother insist to fix the marriage and remembers how her little brother disappear in the beach.
The forth story is written by Jing.mei, her mother insists in that she will be a prodigy girl and imitate Waverly. First attempt was that she looked like a little child that he knows the capitals from all over the world, but hen she tries that she plays the piano.
The third series, the first story talks about Lena, which she thinks that her marriage will break.
The second story talks about Waverly, which she tries of say to her mother that she will marry again.
The third story talks about Rose Hsu, she counts when she get divorced of her husband, and then she resurged and renovated.
The forth story of the series is of the Jing-mei, the story talks about unlucky premonition in the finish Chinese new year.
The forth series talks about the mothers. They remember their youth and they are compared with their daughters that don't understand them because they are Chinese.
To sum up, the book makes a comparison between two generations the mothers and the daughters; they don't understand each other due to the change of mentality.
Jing-mei (June) Woo - Jing-mei Woo is the newest member of the Joy Luck Club, having taken her mother Suyuan's place after her death. The other members of the Joy Luck Club give her money to travel to China so that she can find her mother's long-lost twin daughters, Chwun Yu and Chwun Hwa, and tell them Suyuan's story, but Jing-mei fears that she is not up to the task.
Rose Hsu Jordan - another daughter of the Joy Luck Club and the wife of Ted, a physician. Because Rose is timid and accepting, she is often taken for granted. When Ted asks Rose for a divorce, her mother inspires her to stand up for herself. As a result, she refuses to let Ted walk all over her and take away her home.
Waverly Jong - Waverly is the youngest of Lindo and Tin Jong's children. She has always been a model of success, winning chess tournaments as a child and eventually building a lucrative career as an attorney. Jing-mei has always felt a rivalry with her, somewhat imposed by their competitive mothers. Much of Waverly's talent in chess stemmed from her ability to hide her thoughts and channel invisible powers.
Lena St. Clair - another daughter of the Joy Luck Club and the wife of a successful American businessman, Harold Livotny. He exploits her, refusing to share his wealth with her. Although she is a talented interior decorator, she suffers from her unhappy marriage, is anorexic, and feels she leads a hollow existence.
Suyuan Woo - Suyuan Woo was Jing-mei's mother and the founder of the Joy Luck Club, a group of women who come together once weekly to play mahjong. She started the club in China, in the early days of her first marriage. During her flight from a war-torn area of China, Suyuan lost her twin daughters, Chwun Yu and Chwun Hwa. In San Francisco, Suyuan revived the Joy Luck Club with Lindo, An-mei, and Ying-ying.
An-Mei Hsu - Rose's mother and a member of The Joy Luck Club. An-Mei witnessed the sufferings of her own mother, who killed herself in an effort to insure her daughter's freedom. At a young age, An-Mei managed to escape to America, where she married and had seven children. She considers herself to be an independent and strong woman.
Lindo Jong - Lindo is a member of the Joy Luck Club. She teaches the power of invisible strength to her daughter Waverly, instilling in her the skills that contribute to Waverly's talent in chess. She fears that in trying to give Waverly American opportunities, she may have undermined her daughter's Chinese identity; Lindo also fears that she herself may have become too assimilated.
Ying-Ying St. Clair - Lena's mother and a member of The Joy Luck Club. Unlike her friends who came out of poverty in China, she hails from a wealthy Chinese family. When she was a young woman, she married and became pregnant. When her husband abandoned her, she aborted the baby.