The Hundred Secret Senses is an exultant novel about China and America, love and loyalty, the identities we invent and the true selves we discover along the way. Olivia Laguni is half-Chinese, but typically American in her uneasiness with her patchwork family. And no one in Olivia's family is more embarrassing to her than her half-sister, Kwan Li. For Kwan speaks mangled English, is cheerfully deaf to Olivia's sarcasm, and sees the dead with her "yin eyes."
Even as Olivia details the particulars of her decades-long grudge against her sister (who, among other things, is a source of infuriatingly good advice), Kwan Li is telling her own story, one that sweeps us into the splendor, squalor, and violence of Manchu China. And out of the friction between her narrators, Amy Tan creates a work that illuminates both the present and the past sweetly, sadly, hilariously, with searing and vivid prose.
"Truly magical...unforgettable...this novel...shimmer[s] with meaning."--San Diego Tribune
"The Hundred Secret Senses doesn't simply return to a world but burrows more deeply into it, following new trails to fresh revelations."--Newsweek
Tan's novel of the conflicts between two very different Chinese American sisters spent 12 weeks on PW's bestseller list.
One hundred senses
Funny and Charming Story of Sisters
THE HUNDRED SECRET SENSES focuses on Olivia, a Chinese-American woman, and Kwan, her older sister who was born in China. The novel opens explaining that Kwan has “Yin Eyes,” which means she is able to see ghosts. Now in middle age, Olivia separates from her husband, Simon. After they get an offer to write a piece for a magazine together, Kwan convinces Olivia and Simon to go with her to China to write about Chinese food and to see the village where she was born.
This book is structurally interesting. The novel follows a fairly straightforward plot in present day San Francisco and China. These sections are broken up by stories told from Kwan’s point of view, allegedly from a past life. Kwan speaks with an accent and the writing matches her accent, except for the storytelling parts which is in a more traditional English style.
I loved this book. I was not sure what to expect, but I thought it was surprising and engaging and interesting. I was confused at times jumping back and forth between the two time periods, but eventually I was able to follow which led to a satisfying ending. I loved Kwan and thought she was really funny. Olivia was frustrating at times, especially her treatment of Kwan, but she grew as a character and was sympathetic. This book explores themes of love, identity, and memory. The prose is beautiful and the story captivated me.▪️
Amazing and moving book
This book brought back so many memories as well as heart warming feeling with the ups and downs the heroin faces as she tries to uncover her mother's past.