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Amy Tan

Headshot of Amy Tan leaning against a city wall.

(b. 1952)


Biography current as of induction in 2011

Born in Oakland, California, to Chinese immigrants, Amy Tan rejected her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She chose to write fiction instead. Her novels are “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Kitchen God’s Wife,” “The Hundred Secret Senses,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and “Saving Fish from Drowning,” all New York Times bestsellers and recipients of various awards. She is also the author of a memoir, two children’s books, and numerous magazine articles. Her work has been translated into 35 languages.

Tan served as co-producer and co-screenwriter for the film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club. She was the creative consultant for Sagwa, an Emmy-nominated PBS children’s television series based on her book. She performed as narrator with the San Francisco Symphony and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Her short story “Immortal Heart” was published in The New Yorker and performed on stages in the U.S. and France. Her essays and stories are found in hundreds of anthologies and textbooks, and they are assigned as “required reading” in many high schools and universities.

Recently, Tan wrote the libretto for “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” opera, which had its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera in September of 2008. Her other musical work for the stage is with a literary garage band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose members include Stephen King, Dave Barry, and Scott Turow. In spite of their dubious talent, their yearly gigs have managed to raise over a million dollars for literacy programs.

Her next novel, “The Valley of Amazement,” will be published in 2012. A lifelong California resident, Tan currently lives in Sausalito.

View more inductees from the 6th class, inducted in 2011.