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The Hundred Secret Senses [Mass Market Paperback]

Amy Tan
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Tan's novel of the conflicts between two very different Chinese American sisters spent 12 weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA?Olivia, the narrator of this story, was born to an American mother and a Chinese father. She meets her 18-year-old Chinese half sister, Kwan, for the first time shortly after their father's death. Kwan adores "Libby-ah" and tries to introduce her to her Chinese heritage through stories and memories. Olivia is embarrassed by her sibling, but finds as she matures that she has inadvertently absorbed much about Chinese superstitions, spirits, and reincarnation. Olivia explains, "My sister Kwan believes she has Yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin..." Now in her mid-30s, Olivia, a photographer, is still seeking a meaningful life. The climax of the story comes when she and her estranged husband Simeon, a writer, go to China on assignment with Kwan as the interpreter. In the village in which she grew up, Kwan returns to the world of Yin, her mission completed. Olivia finally learns what Kwan was trying to show her: "If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses." The meshing of the contemporary story of Olivia and the tales Kwan tells of her past life in late-19th century China may confuse some readers. Although this story is different from Tan's previous novels because of the supernatural twist, YAs will find some familiar elements.?Carol Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As in The Joy Luck Club (LJ 2/15/89), Tan unwinds another haunting tale that examines the ties binding Chinese Americans to their ancestors. Nearing divorce from her husband, Simon, Olivia Yee is guided by her elder half-sister, the irrepressible Kwan, into the heart of China. Olivia was five when 18-year-old Kwan first joined her family in the United States, and though always irritated by Kwan's oddities, Olivia was entranced by her eerie dreams of the ghost World of Yin. Only when visiting Kwan's home in Changmian does Olivia realize the dreams are, in Kwan's mind, memories from past lives. Kwan believes she must help Olivia and Simon reunite and thereby fix a broken promise from a previous incarnation. Tan tells a mysterious, believable story and delivers Kwan's clipped, immigrant voice and engaging personality with charming clarity. Highly recommended.
--Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Tan, a critical and commercial favorite, returns to the fiction scene after a four-year absence with a risky, ambitious novel that tackles themes of loyalty, connectedness, and what it means to be a family. When Olivia Yee's half-sister, Kwan, arrives from China, Olivia's life is irrevocably changed. For one thing, Kwan has yin eyes--she can see ghosts. Every night as they were growing up, Kwan told Olivia bedtime stories about the same group of yin people: a woman named Banner, a man named Cape, a one-eyed bandit girl, and a half-and-half man. But, for Olivia, Kwan is also a perpetual source of embarrassment due to her endless questions, fractured English, and boundless optimism. When Olivia separates from her husband, Simon, Kwan schemes to get them back together, and the three take a trip to China to visit the village where Kwan grew up and to learn the secret of their connection to the yin people. Tan's fantastical novel is both mesmerizing and awkward. She is obviously betting that readers will find the ancient and modern worlds she draws here equally fascinating, but Kwan steals every scene she appears in, and her magnetic ghost stories completely overpower Olivia's more modern tale of a broken relationship. It's no contest, for who can resist the lure of a good old-fashioned ghost story? Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Tan's women sparkle and sing off the page. I longed for even more of Kwan - a gorgeously feisty portrait of a Chinese-American housewife, chattering as loudly about the mole on her husband's testicles as the price of pickle-turnips. Kwan is a breathtaking creation.' Julie Myerson, Independent on Sunday 'The sheer buoyancy of Tan's writing, the gutsy humour and the sheer verve of the narrative as it bounces along, from modern San Francisco to nineteenth-century China, is entrancing.' Iain Finlayson, Financial Times 'A wonderful story, told with wit, humour and enormous intelligence. Literary prizes and critical acclaim should be heaped on Amy Tan's head.' Marie Claire --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

I have to admit my first reading of this book was actually a "listening". I listened to it on audio; Amy Tan reading. She is an outstanding reader...I can still hear the characters' distinct voices and visualize scenes as vividly as if I'd "seen" the book instead of "heard" it read to me. I was inspired to read the book for myself as well as more of her novels which balance Chinese traditions with American ideas.

-Jocelyn Schmidt, Ballantine National Sales Coordinator

About the Author

amy tan is the author of four critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling novels. Her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, was nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a recipient of the Commonwealth Gold Award. The Joy Luck Club was also adapted into a feature film in 1994. Her subsequent novels are The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and The Bonesetter's Daughter. She lives in San Francisco and New York. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

Amy Tan is as delightful to listen to as she is to read. She creates magic in this story of two sisters: Olivia, totally American and pragmatic, and Kwan, Chinese and mystical, who converses more easily with the dead than with the living. Tan's contrasting American and Chinese accents bring both personalities vividly to life and provide enchanting images of alternately conflicting and blending cultures. She needs no special effects to engage the listener's hundred secret senses. B.L.W. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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