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Monday, February 20, 2023

'Words, to me, were magic'

 “Writing is an extreme privilege, but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” – Amy Tan


Tan, born on Feb. 19, 1952, said that while growing up she didn’t have a lot of books in the house, primarily because her immigrant parents did not read English.   But, she said “Words, to me, were magic.  You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation, or whatever.  It was amazing to me that words had this power.” 

And so she decided to use them as a writer. 

Like many writers before her, Tan did not start out to be a creative writer.  In fact, she wasn’t a writer at all.  She worked as a switchboard operator, carhop, bartender, and pizza maker – all professions that provided grist for her writing mill. 

Then she became a business writer.  But she had this nagging feeling that she ought to tell her own story – if not to share with others, at least to get down for posterity.  So she wrote The Joy Luck Club.  Now translated into 35 languages, it has become, arguably, reflective of every immigrant woman’s experience.  It also was made into a successful movie. 

Since then, Tan has written several other bestselling novels, including The Kitchen God’s Wife and The Bonesetter’s Daughter and become known as a writer of mother-daughter relationship novels. She’s also written a collection of essays, several short stories and two kids’ books. 

"I write because I know that one day I will die," she said,  "and thus I should experience as many deliberate observations, careful thoughts, wild ideas, and deep emotions as I can before that day occurs."                              


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