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Creative Minds Do Not Think Alike

December 12, 2011

Amy Tan


Mary Ann and John D. Mangels Endowment

  • Author

January 12, 2012 | 6:30 p.m.
Meany Hall (venue change)

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Creative Minds Do Not Think Alike

Born in the United States to immigrant parents from China, 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 the recipient of various awards. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat and numerous articles for magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, and National Geographic. Her work has been translated into 35 languages, from Spanish, French and Finnish to Chinese, Arabic and Hebrew.

Tan served as co-producer and co-screenwriter with Ron Bass for the film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club. She was the creative consultant for Sagwa, the Emmy-nominated PBS television series for children, which has aired worldwide. Her story in The New Yorker, "Immortal Heart," was performed on stages throughout the United States and in France. Tan’s essays and stories are found in hundreds of anthologies and textbooks, and they are required reading in many high schools and universities. She appeared as herself in the animated series The Simpsons. She performed as narrator with the San Francisco Symphony and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra playing an original score for Sagwa, by composer Nathan Wang.

Tan has lectured internationally at universities, including Stanford, Oxford, Jagellonium, Beijing, and Georgetown in Washington, D.C., and Doha, Qatar. The National Endowment for the Arts chose The Joy Luck Club for its 2007 Big Read program.

Recently, Tan wrote the libretto for The Bonesetter’s Daughter, which premiered with the San Francisco Opera in September 2008. The book Fate! Luck! Chance! Amy Tan, Stewart Wallace, and the Making of The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Ken Smith, was published by Chronicle Books in August 2008, and a documentary about the opera, Journey of the Bonesetter’s Daughter, premiered on PBS in 2011. Her other musical work for the stage is limited to serving as lead rhythm dominatrix, backup singer and second tambourine with the 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 $1 million for literacy programs. Her next novel, The Valley of Amazement, will be published in 2012 by Ecco/HarperCollins.

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