Amy Tan sings on the "Don't Quit Your Day Job" Records "Lit-Rock Sampler #1" and the "Stranger Than Fiction" double CD. She was a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders. She also has recorded the spoken-word lecture "Required Reading and Other Dangerous Subjects."
Amy Tan was born in Oakland, California, in 1952.
Her father, who was educated in Beijing and worked for the United States Information Service after the war, immigrated to America in 1947. Her mother came to the United States in 1949 shortly before the Communists seized control of Shanghai; she was forced to leave behind three daughters from a previous marriage.
Ms. Tan grew up in Fresno, Oakland, and Berkeley, as well as the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area. When she was fourteen, her father and older brother both died of brain tumors. Following this double tragedy, her mother took Amy and her younger brother to live in Europe, where she graduated from high school in Montreaux, Switzerland in 1969.
From 1969 to 1976, Ms. Tan attended five colleges: Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, where she met her husband, Lou DeMattei; San Jose City College; San Jose State University, from which she received a B.A. with a double major in English and Linguistics; University of California/Santa Cruz; and University of California/Berkeley.
Prior to writing fiction, Ms. Tan worked as a language development consultant to programs serving developmentally disabled children. In 1983, she became a freelance business writer for various companies, such as IBM, AT&T, and Apple Computers.
In 1985, Ms, Tan attended a writing workshop, for which she wrote the story "Rules of the Game," which later became part of The Joy Luck Club. Her first work of fiction, The Joy Luck Club, was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons in 1989, and became the longest running bestseller on the New York Times bestseller list in 1989. It was also a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It received the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award for Fiction and the Commonwealth Club Gold Award. The book has been translated into over 20 languages, including Chinese.
Her second book, The Kitchen God's Wife, was published in 1991 and was soon the number one bestseller on the New York Times hardcover list. It also appeared on the Canadian, British, Australian, Danish, Spanish, Norwegian, and German bestseller lists.
In 1995, Putnam published Ms. Tan's third novel, The Hundred Secret Senses. It appeared immediately on the New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for several months, and was short-listed for the Bay Area Book Reviewer's prize.
Ms. Tan's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Grand Street, Lear's, McCall's, Ladies Home Journal, The New Yorker, and other magazines, as well as numerous anthologies. Her essay, "Mother Tongue," was published in The Threepenny Review and was selected for the 1991 edition of Best American Essays. Her books are assigned reading in many high schools and colleges. The Joy Luck Club was selected for the literature portion of the 1992-3 Academic Decathlon, a national scholastic competition for high school students.
Amy Tan and illustrator Gretchen Schields have published two books, The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat. Ms. Tan co-wrote the screen play to The Joy Luck Club with Ron Bass, and she was also a co-producer with Mr. Bass and director Wayne Wang on the Disney film. She is planning to work again with the same team on other filmed translations of her fiction.
Ms. Tan has been a resident at the Yaddo Colony, is a board member of PEN American Center, and lives in San Francisco and New York.