The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
I read The Joy Luck Club in college for a women’s literature course, and while it wasn’t my favorite book, it was certainly interesting. I do think Amy Tan gets pigeonholed quite a bit as a “Chinese” American writer, and while she writes about a heritage from China, it’s not exactly fair to think of the experiences she writes about as exclusive to Chinese-Americans, or even more broadly, Asian-Americans. I won The Opposite of Fate, a nonfiction collection, at my undergrad’s English Department annual Book Exchange one year, and I’m finally getting around to reading it.
Tan writes a lot of letters, op-eds, and essays about her life, her writing life, and her connections to fate. The essays vary in interest, topic, and scope, but they all deal on some level with the patterns that play out in the choices she makes and the events that unfold. There’s a terrific essay on playing in a band with other writers, and there’s another essay about why she doesn’t care to be described as an Asian American writer, but an American writer. There’s a letter about a flash flood she and her husband survived in their cabin retreat, and there are a lot of essays about growing up American in a Chinese family.
Nonfiction is not always my bag, but this was a decent and engaging collection of essays. I should pick up more of Tan’s work, as she tells an intriguing story. If you liked The Joy Luck Club, you’ll probably find her writing about it to be quite revealing and give you some insights into the novel and the subsequent film adaptation (which I still have not seen yet).