Where the Past Begins: Book summary and reviews of Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan

Where the Past Begins

A Writer's Memoir

by Amy Tan

Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan X
Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan
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Book Summary

From New York Times bestselling author a Amy Tan, a memoir on her life as a writer, her childhood, and the symbiotic relationship between fiction and emotional memory.

In Where the Past Begins, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan is at her most intimate in revealing the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, she gives evidence to all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer. Through spontaneous storytelling, she shows how a fluid fictional state of mind unleashed near-forgotten memories that became the emotional nucleus of her novels. 

Tan explores shocking truths uncovered by family memorabilia - the real reason behind an IQ test she took at age six, why her parents lied about their education, mysteries surrounding her maternal grandmother - and, for the first time publicly, writes about her complex relationship with her father, who died when she was fifteen. Supplied with candor and characteristic humor, Where the Past Begins takes readers into the idiosyncratic workings of her writer's mind, a journey that explores memory, imagination, and truth, with fiction serving as both her divining rod and link to meaning. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [W]ise and profound...The memoir reveals that, for Tan, the past is ever present, serving as a wellspring of emotion and writing inspiration." - Publishers Weekly

"A composite portrait that should appeal to the author's fans." - Kirkus

This information about Where the Past Begins shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Reader Reviews

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Dinah M Scaturro

Where The Past Begins
What an absorbed, self centered person. Sees herself as a self proclaimed genius from a young age, successful despite suffering from the shortcomings of all her family around her. What an irrelevant, sad little book. Not even trading it in at the bookstore, trashing it.

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Author Information

Amy Tan Author Biography

Born in the US to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan failed her mother's expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She settled on writing fiction. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, and Saving Fish From Drowning, all New York Times bestsellers and the recipients of various awards. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, two children's books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, and numerous articles for magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper's Bazaar, and National Geographic.

Tan has lectured internationally at universities, including Stanford, Oxford, Jagiellonian, Beijing, and Georgetown, both in Washington, DC and Doha, Qatar. Tan also served as the Literary Editor for the ...

... Full Biography
Link to Amy Tan's Website

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