The ‘Joy’ of Reading

When "The Joy Luck Club" first was published in 1989, Amy Tan thought it would follow the pattern of most books and last maybe six weeks on store shelves.

Now, 18 years later, she says she is astounded that it has persevered, with more than 4 million copies in print and becoming an iconic representation of mother-daughter relationships around the world.

The book is this year’s novel featured by The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Arts program that aims to "restore reading to the center of American culture."

Past books include "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Grapes of Wrath" and other literary classics. The fact that "The Joy Luck Club," Tan’s first novel, was selected solidifies its importance in American literature, leaving the author simultaneously humbled and frightened by the honor.

"It’s also daunting because in a way I feel there is a certain standard. … I’m not trying to be falsely modest. I’m in awe of these books," she said during a recent phone interview. "It’s frightening, too, because most of these writers are dead. It makes you aware of your mortality."

Tan will be in Las Vegas at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Summerlin Library, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, to discuss the book and her life experiences with locals, as part of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s Reading Las Vegas program.

Though nearly two decades have passed since its publication, "The Joy Luck Club" still resonates with readers, if the feedback Tan receives is any indication.

The book debuted to much praise and criticism. Some people embraced it as a map to understanding mother-daughter relationships while others claimed it portrayed Chinese men in a negative light.

Wherever Tan speaks — whether to people in an American city or students and faculty at a Jordanian university — the response to the book is universal. Mothers and daughters tell her that the book changed the nature of their relationships, enriched them, or helped them to understand a parent or child’s perspective.

"For so long I felt like I knew nothing about being Chinese. My mother used to say that, that was one reason for writing the book. I find it very ironic when people say they identify with it," Tan said. "I think it’s strange when people think of me as an expert on mothers and daughters and Asian culture. That is so far from the truth. … I know a whole lot more now. I wrote a lot of (the book) because I was confused and I had contradictory feelings about those things."

Though she won’t take credit for her book’s effect on others’ lives, Tan is pleased that "The Joy Luck Club" helped to give readers a better understanding of Chinese culture, or at least sparked a desire to learn more about it.

But that is what fiction does, she said, and why reading is so important to life and culture. Tan hopes that The Big Read program entices people to pick up books again and recognize the impact that literature can have on a life. There is a concern, she added, that reading is on its way out.

"I think people are mistakenly thinking that reading fiction is not relevant to their lives," Tan said. "In a program like this, (people) have a way to come together and talk about how fiction relates to their lives today."

Fiction allows readers to put themselves in the shoes of a character whose life is different than their own. In the end, reading fiction enriches a life, Tan said.

"It’s almost an exercise in compassion," Tan said. "When you read a book about a different culture, you see that some of your stereotypes might be washed away."

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like