The Kitchen God's Wife

The Kitchen God's Wife - Amy Tan This is a story that spans decades. Begun in the present day by the first person narrative of Pearl, the bulk of the story is told by her seventy-four-year-old mother Winnie (Weili) as she relates to her daughter the tale of her first marriage, telling of what it was like in China during and after World War II and how she came to America. The Kitchen God of the title allots luck according to just desserts. He's deified, even though his wife who had suffered because of him and had lived a life of virtue. Winnie identifies with the wife: Nobody had worshiped her either. He got all the excuses. He got all the credit. She was forgotten. The story impressed me in so many ways. First, there's a real difference in voice between mother and daughter. Somehow, without using distracting and annoying devices such as elisions and eccentric spellings, through syntax and word choice, Tan makes Winnie sound like a non-native English speaker of an earlier generation. And before that Winnie sounded so much like a mother. I completely understood and related to her daughter detailing how her mother drove her crazy and their frequent disconnect. But Tan conveys the love there too, even before Winnie tells her story that makes sense of so much her daughter hadn't understood. And Tan is simply a wonderful storyteller, able to convey the complexities of Chinese culture to an American reading audience while completely involving you emotionally. My first book by Amy Tan, it certainly won't be my last.