Novelist Amy Tan is born on this day in 1952 to Chinese immigrants who came to Oakland in 1949.
Tan studied English at San Jose State and Berkeley. Although she planned an academic career, she grew bored with university life and turned to technical writing, business writing, and publishing. At age 26, she learned that her mother had three daughters from a previous marriage and journeyed to China to meet them. The experience helped inspire her first novel, The Joy Luck Club (1989), a collection of stories about three generations of Chinese and Chinese-American women. The book became a bestseller and was made into a movie in 1993.
Tan’s second novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991), was followed in 1995 by The Hundred Secret Senses, which explored ghosts, past lives, and Asian vs. American values. She also wrote two children’s books and played in a band called the Rock Bottom Remainders with fellow writers Stephen King and Dave Barry.