The True Message of Joy Luck Club and The Hundred Secret Senses Essay

The True Message of Joy Luck Club and The Hundred Secret Senses Essay

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The True Message of Joy Luck Club and The Hundred Secret Senses

Alice Walker calls Amy Tan's novel, The Joy Luck Club, "honest, moving, and beautifully courageous."  Publisher's Weekly describes the novel as "intensely poetic, startlingly imaginative and moving ... deceptively simple yet inherently dramatic."  Not only has Amy Tan's fiction been praised for its literary merit, but it also has been included in anthologies of multicultural literature for its portrayal of Chinese and Chinese-American culture. 

      However, critics such as George Tseo vehemently disagree with these and other accolades, particularly regarding the cultural details of Tan's fiction and Mandarin Chinese dialogue.  "I take umbrage at Amy Tan's confused rendition of Mandarin not only because the true beauty of the language is obscured but because by doing so the Chinese culture is misrepresented."  He argues that Tan uses "phony" and "stereotypically wooden and metaphorical" Chinese dialogue, a one-sided over-emphasis on Chinese superstitious practices, and culturally implausible plots (339). 

      Sau-Ling Cynthia Wong, an associate professor of Asian-American studies at the University of Berkeley, corroborates Tseo's challenge of Tan's cultural accuracy.  Wong points out errors such as Tan's misuse of the term "tang jie" or "sugar sister" in The Hundred Secret Senses, Tan's third novel.  Not only has Tan confused the word "tang" with its Chinese homophone--which does not mean "sugar"--but she has ascribed a metaphorical use, meaning a friend as close as a sister, to a term which only refers to a blood relative in the Chinese kinship system (180-82).  Wong acknowledges that "errors of the 'sugar sister' type [lin...

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Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1997. 85-7.

Schell, Orville. Critical Extract. Asian-American Women
Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House,
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Shear, Walter. "Generational differences and the diaspora in
The Joy Luck Club." Women Writers. 34.3 (Spring 1993): 193.
Expanded Academic Index.

Souris, Stephen. "'Only Two Kinds of Daughters:'" Inter-
Monologue Dialogicity in The Joy Luck Club." Melus 19.2
(Summer 1994):99-123.

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Ivy Books, 1989.
--------- The Hundred Secret Senses. New York: Ivy Books, 1995.

Willard, Nancy. Critical Extract. Asian-American Women
Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House,
1997. 84-5.

Xu, Ben. "Memory and the Ethnic Self: Reading Amy Tan's Joy
Luck Club." Melus 19.1 (Spring 1994): 3-17.

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