American Masters


What was the Joy Luck Club?

The title of Amy Tan's famous novel was also the name of an investment club made up of Tan's parents and friends. Sandy Bremner, one of Tan's friends from childhood, describes how powerful it was for their parents to be around other immigrants from China like themselves.

AIRED: May 03, 2021 | 0:01:34

(Gentle piano music)

- [Narrator] This is me on my fourth birthday.

She's my best friend (laughs) to this day.

The one at the end, Sandy.

Her mother and father were members

of the original Joy Luck Club.

- All my parents' siblings were in China,

so I always considered Amy

and her siblings to be my cousins.

The Joy Luck Club was formed by a few couples,

all Chinese, who decided they wanted to

be an investment group.

They would pick stocks, review them,

and then they would socialize afterwards.

Mostly women played Mahjong,

the men preferred to play cards.

Then about midnight, they would have a feast.

We would love it as children.

Get to stay up late,

get to see our aunties and uncles.

What I remember is there's this comfort level

of being with like people, especially

for my mom who grew up in Shanghai.

Auntie Daisy, Amy's mom, was also from Shanghai.

I could imagine how comforting that would feel.

I loved Amy's dad, uncle John.

He had a really warm smile,

really warm and welcoming demeanor.


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