The Second Triumph of Amy Tan

Fairy tales and Amy Tan seem to keep close company. Two years ago Tan was just another struggling, unpublished, 37-year-old writer, making up brochures for computer companies while composing stories on the side. By the end of 1989 she was the author of the most admired novel on the best-seller list, her Joy Luck Club having conquered critics and the public alike. A literary star had been born overnight -- and, in her wake, a fairy tale's difficult postscript: How could she ever live up to what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime success?

At the outset of The Kitchen God's Wife (Putnam;...

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