Saturday, 17 March 2012

THE JOY LUCK CLUB by Amy Tan


This is a famous best seller which I have been ignoring for years fearing it was going to be a bit of a let-me-milk-my-heritage cheesy Americana. It's not quite that bad, but I'm afraid that yes, that's the general area.

The story revolves around four Chinese immigrant women in San Francisco who meet to play Mah Jong. Their daughters join them. We flash back in time to the mothers' lives in China so we can all be in touch with our heritage. Yes, it's a cheese fest.

There are some interesting stories, and some sweet bits - here's a description of a little boy who's just been disciplined:
So Bing wandered down the beach, walking stiffly like an ousted emperor, picking up shards of rock and chunks of driftwood
But then there are some dire bits. Here's some quality believable dialogue, which shows how people talk in China:
Thank you Little Queen. Then you must teach my daughter this same lesson. How to lose your innocence but not you hope. How to laugh forever.
Eventually one of the daughters travels to China, and to her horror, her mother's home of Guangzhou "looks like a major American city." Worse yet, in her hotel "There's a colour television with remote-control panels built into the lamp table between the twin beds." What a betrayal. But then luckily she takes a shower: "The hotel has provided little packets of shampoo which upon opening, I discover is the consistency of colour of hoisin sauce. This is more like it, I think. This is China."

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