Essays Written Amy Tan

Amy Tan was born in Oakland, California, to Chinese immigrant parents.After Tan's father and brother both died of brain tumors, her family settled in Montreux, Switzerland, where Tan graduated from high school.She wants to provide this new innovation of language and closeness it creates within the family atmosphere.

Essays Written Amy Tan-25Essays Written Amy Tan-32

My mother begged me to ask my grandmother to save him. After my mother read a draft of that story, she had tears in her eyes.

Then her father, an electrical engineer and Baptist minister, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and died not long after Peter. The disease spread to her brain, causing seizures that sparked bizarre but benign hallucinations, like a Renoir painting or a spinning odometer. She found letters to her parents from immigration officials, warning that their student visas had expired and they were at risk of deportation. She’s accustomed to having her fiction critiqued, but this feels much scarier, and more personal. And it very likely wouldn’t exist, she admits, had it not been for the gentle and insistent prodding from her editor.

When she started taking medication to control the seizures, it made her giddy, and she worried it would make her write maudlin fiction.

Born in California in 1952 to Chinese immigrants, she grew up in fear of her volatile mother. Tan’s late mother, Daisy, was depressed and unstable, and repeatedly threatened suicide.

She once tried to throw herself out of the car when the family was driving on the highway. Tan was 16, her mother brandished a meat cleaver and threatened to kill her. Tan’s family was struck by a double tragedy: her older brother Peter developed a brain tumor and died at age 16. Tan also catalogs some of the trials and misfortunes she’s faced as an adult: her feeling of “relief and sadness” when she had a miscarriage at 28, and her struggle with chronic Lyme disease, which she contracted in 1999. She found a photograph of her maternal grandmother, a concubine who died of a possibly intentional opium overdose, dressed as a courtesan. She worries about family members who might think she’s sullied her grandmother’s memory, and is terrified of the critical response. Tan plans to have her papers destroyed when she dies, including her letters and the many partial novels she abandoned, so “Where the Past Begins” may be the most complete and intimate record of her life that her fans and readers will get.

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