The Opposite of Fate

Amy Tan

‘When I began writing this history, I let go of my doubts. I trusted the ghosts of my imagination. They showed me the hundred secret senses. And what I wrote is what I discovered about the endurance of love.’ So writes Amy Tan at the beginning of this remarkably candid insight into her life. Tan takes us on a journey from her childhood, as a sensitive but intelligent young Chinese-American, ashamed of her parents’ Chinese ways, to the present day and her position as one of the world’s best-loved novelists. She describes the daily difficulties of being at once American and Chinese and yet feeling at times like she was truly neither. Most significantly, and heartbreakingly, she tells the history of her family: the grandmother who committed suicide as the only means of defiance open to her against a husband who ignored her wishes; her remarkable mother, whose first husband had her jailed when she tried to leave him; and the shocking deaths of both her father and husband when Amy was just 14. How this weight of history has brought itself to bear on the adult Amy looms large in her own story. Ghosts, chance and fate have played a part in her life, and ‘The Opposite of Fate’ is an insight into those ancestors, the women who ‘never let me forget why these stories need to be told’.

Reviews of The Opposite of Fate

  • ‘Amy Tan is definitely a guru on life, love and imagination.’ Cosmopolitan

    ‘Amy Tan both comforts and surprises us. She gives us romance and questions it. She gives us home and makes it a lost home. She gives us China and America, and questions the value of each. All told in an elegant, humorous language, full of wit and mystery.’ Guardian

    ‘Could there be a better model for writers today than Amy Tan? She tells great stories with powerful themes: love, belonging, exile, death, compassion. She moves easily between pathos, comedy and joy.’ Scotland on Sunday