The Joy Luck Club

What. A.Book.

joy luck club

Mine was a different cover  that am unable to find online.

The Joy Luck Club is written by Amy Tan. She is one author whom I wish to read more from now on. I loved the way she has intricately woven the stories around 4 Chinese immigrants in San Francisco who form a mahjong club called the Joy Luck Club. They wish to leave their dark past behind and spend good times with each other while playing mahjong.

Having been in Singapore for a while now, I am intrigued by the Chinese culture. Some aspects fascinate me and no doubt, it is a very vibrant and rich culture. They have a big system of beliefs and understanding some rituals is enlightening to say the least. If you are curious about knowing people from different parts of the world, how they settle in and try to blend with the locals when they move, the conflicts that arise between them and their kids (who are born in a foriegn place), how they try to hold onto their beliefs and fervently wish their children would feel as proud of their culture as well – then, read this book. For everything else, read this book again. It touched me in a very different way and I cannot put that in words.

The story is about 4 mothers, all of them Chinese immigrants in USA. The first section is called “Feathers from a thousand li away“. This section introduces the story and the Joy Luck Club through Jing-Mei Woo who talks of her mother who was forced to flee from Kweilin during world war, leaving her twin daughters behind. She marries another man in USA with whom she has Jing-Mei Woo, the one who introduces the story. Jing Mei-Woo’s mother is no more and Jing-Mei Woo finds herself face-to-face with her mother’s long secret wish – re-uniting with her twin daughters back in China. This section of the book also talks of the other 3 mothers of the club and a story each from their past.

The second section is ” The twenty six malignant gates” talks of the relationship and incidents between the 4 mothers and their daughters during childhood. The emotions come across so beautifully in such subtlety and it is hard to not get carried away.

The third section is “The American translation”  that deals with the daughters as young adults all having problems, conflicts and confusions of their own.

The fourth section is “Queen Mother of the Western Skies” where the mothers talk of how they had faced equally confusing and challenging situations in their time and how they solved them or overcame them. There are instances where you feel like the characters are talking to you because it is so beautifully portrayed. The mother-daughter relationships bring tears to your eyes and you just wish you could meet them all. The final chapter is about whether Jing-Mei Woo finally meets her twins or not.

It is a beautiful poignant tale that lingers long after you have closed the book. While I had to sometimes turn back to get my character names right, I enjoyed doing it actually.

Just one thing. Maybe it is not a great idea to pick this one up when your mother is thousands of miles away.


  1. greenboochi · April 9, 2013

    I am sure I will love this book, will lay hands as soon as possible. Guess you missed amma a lot! 😐

    • kismitoffeebar · April 9, 2013

      Please do GB. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

      Yes, I miss her like crazy 😦

  2. Destination Infinity · April 9, 2013

    Seems like an interesting book. I like books that add value to fiction, instead of being just being a story. If there is something that we can learn/appreciate, I look forward to read such books. I will remember the name of this book. It’s easy to remember, actually 🙂

    Destination Infinity

  3. Jas · April 9, 2013

    The books seems really good. Anything that tugs the heart is my pick so I am going to look for it here. 🙂

  4. KP · April 9, 2013

    Your nice review makes a reading of the book appealing especially for the Indian immigrants abroad.

    • kismitoffeebar · April 9, 2013

      Thanks KP 🙂 It is a wonderful book for anybody. I personally liked te ecultural know-hows and the relationships portrayed 🙂

  5. sjscribbles · April 9, 2013

    Sound like a Good Book – Kismi !

    • kismitoffeebar · April 9, 2013

      Thanks so much SJ ! 🙂 I have this glint in my eye now 😛

  6. Filter Kaapi · April 9, 2013

    Looks like a good one.. All the time I was wondering how you got the names right or how you were able to distinguish one from the other, and then at the end you mentioned that you enjoyed the turning back exercise as well 🙂

    Will look out for this next time when I’m in library. 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · April 10, 2013

      Hehe. It is a great book.
      Names are not confusing. The stories in each section need to be correlated , which mother-which daughter 😛 You will know what I mean when you pick this one up 🙂

  7. The Girl Next Door · April 9, 2013

    Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the thumbs-up, Kismi! 🙂

    I have come across this book several times in Blossoms, but never bought it. Have heard a lot about Amy Tan’s books, actually.

    BTW, if you like reading about Chinese culture, you should try Snow Flower And The Secret Fan. I read it last year. It was a very different book than the ones I usually read, and I enjoyed it a lot. I think you will love it.

    • kismitoffeebar · April 10, 2013

      More than welcome TGND. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂

      Oh, am so picking up the “Snowflower and the secret fan”. It is on my list but haven’t managed to find the book yet. Missed the movie also 😦 Thank you! 🙂

  8. pixie · April 10, 2013

    I’m so gonna read this book! 🙂
    Putting it on hold at the library right away! 🙂
    Very interesting…

    • kismitoffeebar · April 10, 2013

      Go on. Pick it up Pixie! 🙂 I hope you aren’t disappointed. Stay through even if it gets a little overwhelming at times 🙂

  9. onehonestwriter · April 10, 2013

    Seems like an interesting read, I m gonna look for this in my library.

  10. Visha · April 10, 2013

    I see ma only once a year, so whenever I choke up while reading the book, I will bug her immediately 😛 😛

  11. girlinjammies · April 23, 2013

    Looks really interesting ! Gotta pick this up very soon. I love reading about other cultures, especially those ones which are quite alien to me.

    • kismitoffeebar · April 24, 2013

      Oh, please do so then! I think you would probably enjoy this one 🙂

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