Books: The Joys And Sorrows Of Amy Tan

Her mother has always been the writer's best muse. Now her mother's death has inspired a vibrant novel about loss

A not-so-funny thing happened to Amy Tan back in 1993 on the day of a gala premiere of The Joy Luck Club, the film adaptation of her phenomenally successful 1989 first novel. "Annette Bening was introducing the screening," Tan recalls, seated in the elegant eight-room condominium decorated in what she jokingly calls "Marco Polo Chinese," in San Francisco's Presidio Heights, where she and her husband Louis De Mattei have lived for nearly 11 years. "My mother was there; she was proud. Everything should have been the formula for somebody being extremely happy. But I cried all day. I felt suicidal. I...

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