Book of the Week: The Valley of Amazement – Amy Tan

This is Tan’s first novel since 2005’s Saving Fish from Drowning and if the speed with which advanced reading copies disappeared from our table at both the Heartland Fall Forum and the MPIBA Trade Show is any indication, it’s going to fly off bookstore shelves, too.

A new book by Tan is a publishing event and The Valley of Amazement is certainly being received as one in the media. This extensively researched historical novel is nominally about the lives of 19th century Chinese courtesans. But like all her work, the plot is a jumping off point for themes that have threaded throughout her writing—mothers and daughters, the tension between tradition and change. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Tan herself says the novel is first and foremost about identity: “It has to do with the circumstances that determine who you are, and how what you do in your life determines your future.”

The advance reviews are superb and booksellers have been raving, too. Expect major media and extensive reviews at on sale, starting with People, Newsday, NYT, Washington Post, WSJ, USA Today, CBS/This Morning and NPR/Morning Edition.

Tan introduces us to an extensive cast of well-drawn, authentic-seeming characters … VERDICT This utterly engrossing novel is highly recommended to all readers who appreciate an author’s ability to transport them to a new world they will not forget.”
— Library Journal (starred review)

“Tan is a skilled storyteller. . . A satisfyingly complete, expertly paced yarn.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Tan’s prodigious, sumptuously descriptive, historically grounded, sexually candid, and elaborately plotted novel counters violence, exploitation, betrayal, and tragic cultural divides with beauty, wit, and transcendent friendship between women.”
— Booklist (starred review)

“ Jumping from bustling Shanghai to an isolated village in rural China to San Francisco at the turn of the 19th century, the epic story follows three generations of women pulled apart by outside forces…. Tan’s mastery of the lavish world of courtesans and Chinese customs continues to transport.”
Publishers Weekly

Reading The Valley of Amazement is such an engrossing experience it truly takes you somewhere else. Ms. Tan’s storytelling skills are in full flower; her ability to tell a story so full of vivid betrayal and heartache, while at the same time never letting go of the warmth and affection that holds us all together through hardship, is remarkable and moving. An epic story spanning two generations and two continents, told masterfully enough to draw the reader into an intimate bond with each character.”
– Neil Rajala, Schuler Books and Music, Grand Rapids, MI

The Valley of Amazement (9780062107312) by Amy Tan. $29.99 hardcover. 11/5/13 one day laydown.

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