Amy Tan 2

Chinese artists have been subversive over thousands of years, taking what they think of the government and embedding it in their art. There might be censorship of not going as far as they might.
Amy Tan

I went to an exhibition at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum about Shanghai, about how courtesans had been influential in bringing western culture to Shanghai. I bought a book and in it saw this striking group of women in a photograph called ‘The Ten Beauties of Shanghai’.
Amy Tan

My mother left behind three daughters when she went to America and started a new life. I certainly felt abandoned when my father died of a brain tumour; I felt he had abandoned me to this terrible, volatile mother and I had no protection.
Amy Tan

I read academic books on courtesan culture at the turn-of-the century in Shanghai such as Gail Hershatter’s ‘The Gender of Memory’. The diaries were mostly in the form of letters from courtesans to a lover who had disappeared or taken their savings.
Amy Tan

I recognise why I have such a strong inability to forgive certain people who betray me. It’s chiselled in, like a name on a tomb stone.
Amy Tan

Mothers have this huge influence, and I feel like they’re always teaching us from the day we’re born what to be afraid of, what to be cautious of, what we should like, and what we should look like.
Amy Tan

Popularity is given to you, and if you think that just because you’re really popular you’re a better person, it could be a real crash when you find the popularity goes down.
Amy Tan

My mother always thought if her mother hadn’t left her, she would have been happy. All the problems she had never would have happened.
Amy Tan

That’s part of the character of Shanghainese people. They’re good negotiators, they’re very persistent, and you grow up in an atmosphere like that – very competitive. That becomes part of your personality: Shanghai personality becomes part of yours. Just like New Yorkers – they’re often like that.
Amy Tan

I’m usually woken by a vibration on my up-band. It’s the gradual vibration for about ten seconds, and then the chimes of my blue light. It’s just a way to wake gently. It all gently puts me into awake-mode. I play music off of my Sonos playlist. ‘The Rachmaninoff Concerto 3 in D-minor’, 1st movement.
Amy Tan

My breakfast is usually a wholegrain cereal or porridge, with walnuts sprinkled in it, berries, a tablespoon of honey, and chia seeds. I have coffee and a little cherry juice with seltzer. I have a seat by the window, and I look out at the view.
Amy Tan

For books I want to keep reading, it’s definitely the voice. It must be a voice I’ve never heard before, and it must have its own particular intelligence. By ‘voice,’ I don’t mean vernacular. It has to have its own particular history and world that it inhabits.
Amy Tan

My grandmother. She’s someone I never met, and I would’ve loved to have met her. She’s been a huge influence on our entire family, not just me. She is a mystery. It’s not clear exactly what about her is truth and myth.
Amy Tan

In the mid-1800s, they were known also as ‘singsong houses,’ and the courtesans were actually master musicians.
Amy Tan

I was shocked, and I ended up contacting three academics to find out if it could possibly be that my grandmother was a courtesan.
Amy Tan

For many courtesans, it was over by age 22.
Amy Tan

In a second-class courtesan house, the courtship was much briefer. It could even be one night; usually it went on a little bit longer. But as the years went by, that period of courtship was shorter and shorter.
Amy Tan

Poetry. I read Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Jane Hirschfield. I like to read Billy Collins out loud.
Amy Tan

I grew up with Bible stories, which are like fairy tales, because my father was a minister. We heard verses and prayers every day. I liked the gorier Bible stories. I did have a book of Chinese fairy tales. All the people except the elders looked like Italians. But we were not a family that had fiction books.
Amy Tan

My older brother and I read all the time. My father read, but only things related to religion. One year, he did read a set of stories that was called something like ‘365 Stories’ out loud to us. They followed a family for the year, a page a day. They were about kids with simple problems – like a wheel coming off their bicycle.
Amy Tan

No one can travel your own road for you; you must travel it for yourself. My faith in this stems from my childhood. I grew up in a family with a system of religious beliefs handed down to me.
Amy Tan

My mother believed in curses, karma, good luck, bad luck, feng shui. Her amorphous set of beliefs showed me you can pick and choose the qualities of your philosophy, based on what works for you.
Amy Tan

My mother’s openness has remained inspiring to me. I strive to be a skeptic, in the best sense of that word: I question everything, and yet I’m open to everything. And I don’t have immovable beliefs. My values shift and grow with my experiences – and as my context changes, so does what I believe.
Amy Tan

Our uniqueness makes us special, makes perception valuable – but it can also make us lonely. This loneliness is different from being ‘alone’: You can be lonely even surrounded by people. The feeling I’m talking about stems from the sense that we can never fully share the truth of who we are. I experienced this acutely at an early age.
Amy Tan

I measured my success by how many clients I had and how many billable hours I had.
Amy Tan

When my mother read ‘The Joy Luck Club’, she was always complaining to me how she had to tell her friends that, no, she was not the mother or any of the mothers in the book.
Amy Tan

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