The Opposite of Fate, Paperback
4 out of 5 (4 ratings)


An unbearably moving, intensely passionate, deeply personal account of life as seen through the eyes of one of America's best-loved novelists. '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'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780007170401



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

I was lucky enough to get this book free with a copy of the Times newspaper some months ago. I wasn't sure what it would be about, but now that I've read it I'm very glad. 'The Opposite of Fate' is a collection of short essays and nonfiction pieces that Tan has written during her career, and cover a lot of the most important aspects of her life: her relationship with her mother; her family, and the tragedy of the deaths of her brother and father within a year to brain-tumours; visits to China; how her literature is viewed by students and critics; and also a nice medical mystery concerning Lyme disease, that seems like an episode of 'House' but written from the patient's perspective.

Review by

An interesting collection of essays by Amy Tan exploring herself, predominantly herself as a writer. I found this collection very relevant and poiniant, making me think about things and see things in ways in which I hadn't thought about or seen them before. Worth reading twice.

Review by

A truly beautiful book. You could tell from many of Amy Tan's books that she had a turbulent relationship with her mother. These memoirs showed the strong love she had for the strong character who was her mother. I read this book not long after my mother died and was moved and comforted by it.

Review by

A collection of reflections & semi-biographical writings - even better than her fictional memoirs.Read Oct 2006