The Big Read Blog (Archive)

A Report from the Field: Hillsborough County Public Library (Tampa, Florida)

Tampa, Florida

Amy Tan. Photo by Bob Shonbrun

Tampa's Hillsborough County Public Library kicked off its second Big Read May 1 with a special event emceed by local television news reporter, Elizabeth Dinh, featuring a guest appearance by Amy Tan. The Joy Luck Club author was back the next day at the David A. Straz Performing Arts Center where she spoke to a crowd of about 430---mothers, daughters, fathers, sons---about her life. Here?s more from Darlene Harris, the library?s adult programming coordinator, about how Tan's own tumultuous family relationships informed her first novel:

[Amy Tan] was inspiring because she was real and very humble. She shared intimate stories of the strange and unique bond that mothers/daughters have. I had the fortune of being the person assigned to escort Ms. Tan from venue to venue, and I had the opportunity to talk with her. Let me tell you---she was real, transparent and down to earth. Her story was ?motivating and inspiring? was what people were all saying.

She talked about [how], in her thirties, she took up writing fiction. Her relationships with her mother and sisters in China helped to form her Chinese-American identity, which is an integral part of her writings. . . .She also shared stories about her relationship with her father and mother, and how different each relationship was. She adored her father and admitted that she was a daddy?s girl, unlike the relationship with her mother, which was combative at times. Life with her mother was unpredictable. She talked about the death of her father and eldest brother---both died from brain tumors in the same year, and how her mother dealt with it. . . .[H]er mother mov[ed Tan] and her brother to Switzerland, which originally started out as a move to Holland because Mrs. Tan believed it was germ-free. . .She [later] defied her mother?s educational guidance by abandoning pre-med courses and received degrees in English and Linguistics.

To learn more about Amy Tan and her work, visit The Joy Luck Club page on The Big Read website.

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