The Joy Luck Club
Orville Schell's review of The Joy Luck Club for the New York Times emphasizes that those millions of Chinese who were part of the diaspora of World War II and the fighting that resulted in the triumph of the Communists were subsequently cut off from the mainland and after 1949 left to fend for themselves culturally. Though Schell is struck by the way this book renders the vulnerability of these Chinese women in America, the novel's structure in fact succeeds in manifesting not merely the individual psychic tragedies of those caught up in this history, but the enormous agony of a culture enmeshed in a transforming crisis. What each person's story conveys is the terror of a vulnerable human consciousness torn and rent in a culture's contortions; and although, like other Chinese-American books, this novel articulates "the urge to find a usable past" it is made up of a series of intense encounters in a kind of cultural lost and found.
The structure that presents this two-fold impression recalls works such as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time, and William Faulkner's The Unvanquished, books that feature distinct, individual narratives but that as a group simultaneously dramatize the panorama of a critical transition in cultural values. In The Joy Luck Club Tan organizes her material in terms of a generational contrast by segregating stories of mothers and their daughters. The separate story sections are____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Amy Tan. Contributors: Harold Bloom - Editor. Publisher: Chelsea House. Place of publication: Philadelphia. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 17.
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