Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. American Studies Program


Lyn Mikel Brown

Second Advisor

Linda Tatelbaum

Third Advisor

Pamela Thoma


As I sat in my advisor's office, next to a large bookshelf filled with poems, literature and critical work by Asian Americans, I asked the question, "Why Amy Tan?" Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club (1989) is undoubtedly one of the most popular contemporary novels among a mass American audience and even an academic one. My intrigue with Tan evolved into accounting for why Tan enjoys wide readership while other brilliant Asian American writers are significantly less read by mainstream American audiences. The Joy Luck Club stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for nine months and Tan's work also appears on high school and college syllabi nationwide. Following Sau-ling Cynthia Wong, I have come to label Tan's success the "Amy Tan Phenomenon", which I have sought to demystify by comparing The Joy Luck Club to Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1975), Myenne Fae Ng's Bone (1993), Joy Kogawa's Obasan (1981) and Nora Okja Keller's Comfort Woman (1997).


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


Asian American, Amy Tan Phenomenon, The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan, United States