The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Amy Tan on the Influence of Louise Erdrich

When the NEA welcomed three new books to the Big Read library last fall---Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, Charles Portis's True Grit, and Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North---we asked the writers if they had particular ties to any of the other Big Read titles. Lahiri spoke about having recently read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time: "I had a very intense reaction to it, and I think, I hope, in some way, it helped me to finish ... my next novel.... [T]he sense of place, the understanding of place, the incredible complexity and love of the land and the difficulty of confronting physical space and place and all of those things. I was just absolutely overwhelmed by the novel."

The inspiration writers sometimes find in unexpected works of literature also occurred when Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, read Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine. Despite their different backgrounds, both of these Big Read books share a focus on family, and examine perspectives across different generations.

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