Amy Tan is out with her first novel since 2005, which looks at family relationships in a different way from her previous work. "The Valley of Amazement" focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters who live in an upper-class brothel.
Entertainment Weekly's review says that Tan "sweeps you up in the wildly changing fortunes of a whip-smart courtesan."
From Publisher's Weekly:
The story opens in 1905 and is told through the eyes of Violet, a half-American, half-Chinese girl being raised by her mother, Lulu, the only American female proprietor of a courtesan house in Shanghai's International Settlement. Tricked by a lover, Lulu abandons Violet to the courtesan life, even though Violet thought her mixed heritage rescued her from that fate...
A creative shift took place when Tan discovered a series of photographs taken of her grandmother in Shanghai circa 1910.
"You see a woman posed like this," says Tan, haughtily jutting out her hip and placing an elbow on her desk, "and you think that whatever they say, she certainly was not a quiet, old-fashioned woman." The images "blasted a hole in the family myth" and set Tan in a completely different direction. She was inspired by the possibility that, like one in 100 women in Shanghai at the time, her grandmother might have been a courtesan.
Tan joins The Daily Circuit to discuss her new novel.