Amy Tan

Amy Tan
Amy Tan
  • Born: February 19, 1952
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Novelist

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At the beginning of my career as a writer, I felt I knew nothing of Chinese culture. I was writing about emotional confusion with my mother related to our different beliefs. Hers was based in family history, which I didn't know anything about. I always felt hesitant in talking about Chinese culture and American culture. History ;Families, Children & Parenting
Chinese artists have been subversive over thousands of years, taking what they think of the government and embedding it in their art. There might be censorship of not going as far as they might. Government ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
God, life changes faster than you think. Life ;Religion & God
I also thought of playing improvisational jazz and I did take lessons for a while. At first I tried to write fiction by making up things that were completely alien to my life. Life
I am an American, steeped in American values. But I know on an emotional level what it means to be of the Chinese culture.
I did not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years washing away my pain, the same way carvings on stone are worn down by water.
I didn't fear failure. I expected failure. Failure
I don't steer clear of genres. I simply haven't steered myself toward some of them.
I have a writer's memory which makes everything worse than maybe it actually was.
I have survivor skills. Some of that is superficial - what I present to people outwardly - but what makes people resilient is the ability to find humour and irony in situations that would otherwise overpower you.
I like to go somewhere where I learn something I didn't know before, like the Dry Tortugas between Florida and Cuba.
I loved fairy tales when I was a kid. Grimm. The grimmer the better. I loved gruesome gothic tales and, in that respect, I liked Bible stories, because to me they were very gothic. Respect
I read a book a day when I was a kid. My family was not literary; we did not have any books in the house. Families, Children & Parenting
I saw my mother in a different light. We all need to do that. You have to be displaced from what's comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes.
I started a second novel seven times and I had to throw them away.
I think I've always been somebody, since the deaths of my father and brother, who was afraid to hope. So, I was more prepared for failure and for rejection than for success. Hope ;Failure ;Success
I thought I was clever enough to write as well as these people and I didn't realize that there is something called originality and your own voice.
I used to think that my mother got into arguments with people because they didn't understand her English, because she was Chinese.
I wanted to write stories for myself. At first it was purely an aesthetic thing about craft. I just wanted to become good at the art of something. And writing was very private. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I was intelligent enough to make up my own mind. I not only had freedom of choice, I had freedom of expression. Freedom & Liberty
I would find myself laughing and wondering where these ideas came from. You can call it imagination, I suppose. But I was grateful for wherever they came from.
I would never require anyone to read any book. That seems antithetical to why we read - which is to choose a book for our personal reasons. I always shudder when I'm told my books are on required reading lists.
I would still like to have that luxury, to be able to just sit and draw for hours and hours and hours. In a way, that's what I do as a writer.
I write because I know that one day I will die, and thus I should experience as many deliberate observations, careful thoughts, wild ideas, and deep emotions as I can before that day occurs.
I'd like to be more forgiving. There are times when I've had a hard time forgiving people who have betrayed me. Time
I'm open to reading almost anything - fiction, nonfiction - as long as I know from the first sentence or two that this is a voice I want to listen to for a good long while. It has much to do with imagery and language, a particular perspective, the assured knowledge of the particular universe the writer has created. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
In America nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.
It's a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life. Life
It's both rebellion and conformity that attack you with success. Success
My favorite anything is always relative to the context of present time, place and mood. When I finish a book and want to immediately find another by the same author and no other, that author is elevated to my favorite. Time
My mother had a very difficult childhood, having seen her own mother kill herself. So she didn't always know how to be the nurturing mother that we all expect we should have.
My mother said I was a clingy kid until I was about four. I also remember that from the age of eight she and I fought almost every day.
My parents had very high expectations. They expected me to get straight A's from the time I was in kindergarten. Time
My parents told me I would become a doctor and then in my spare time I would become a concert pianist. So, both my day job and my spare time were sort of taken care of. Time
My writing often contains souvenirs of the day - a song I heard, a bird I saw - which I then put into the novel.
No one in my family was a reader of literary fiction. So, I didn't have encouragement, but I didn't have discouragement, because I don't think anybody knew what that meant. Families, Children & Parenting
People talk about this 'bucket list': 'I need to go to this country, I need to skydive.' Whereas I need to think as much as I can, to feel as much as I can, to be conscious and observe and understand me and the people around me as much as I can.
People think it's a terrible tragedy when somebody has Alzheimer's. But in my mother's case, it's different. My mother has been unhappy all her life. For the first time in her life, she's happy. Life ;Time
Placing on writers the responsibility to represent a culture is an onerous burden.
She said 'I'm by commission. You don't have to pay anything until you sell anything.' I said, 'Well fine. You want to be my agent and not make anything.' I thought, 'Boy, is she dumb.'
That was a wonderful period in my life. I mean, I didn't become an artist, but somebody let me do something I loved. What a luxury, to do something you love to do. Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
The forbidden things were a great influence on my life. I was forbidden from reading A Catcher in the Rye. Life
There are a lot of people who think that's what's needed to be successful is always being right, always being careful, always picking the right path.
We are the kind of people who obsess over one word... but we have only one shot to get it right in concert. It was hard the first time I practiced with them. I was so nervous that my vocal chords were paralyzed for about a half-hour. Time
When I go back and read my journals or fiction, I am always surprised. I may not remember having those thoughts, but they still exist and I know they are mine, and it's all part of making sense of who I am.
Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses.
Words to me were magic. You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation or whatever. It was amazing to me that words had this power. Power
Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.
You can get sucked into the idea that, 'Gosh, this is impressive. Maybe I should do this. It will look good.' Or 'I'll write like this because it will impress that critic.'
You write a book and you hope somebody will go out and pay $24.95 for what you've just said. I think books were my salvation. Books saved me from being miserable. Hope

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