Who doesn’t know Amy Tan?
An American  writer that I ‘found’ few years ago, maybe around 2007-2008 somewhere in the book shop. I was bored, nothing to do, even I don’t understand why I was there confused. I scanned the books one by one and without reading it synopsis I put it back to the shelf, then move and doing the same. I didn’t know what book I wanted to read and why must ‘book’, why not ice-cream, going somewhere nice to clear my rotten-brain, or hang-out with friends (which I hate it), or even worse : smoking marijuana (which I’ve never tried it). The question is : Why ‘BOOK’ I was looking for whenever I feel confuse, lonely, angry or bored?

There, I saw Amy Tan piled up among other books. I reached it and for the first time after been 45 minutes in that book store, I reversed the book to read the synopsis. I don’t remember what I feel that time as I read it but quite unforgettable when finally I open the book and read the words about “ghost”, like “My Auntie Kwan believe there’s a ghost in her kitchen in San Fransisco”
I closed the book and went to counter immediately for the payment and stopped by the Mc.D (still inside the building) for lunch. The book was there while I enjoying my lunch, untouched. I wondered why I bought this book with Amy Tan written on it, nothing special with it cover, must be a predictable story (which I hate most), must be a boring book like others which then ended nowhere. I hate reading to be honest, I’m not a bookworm, I don’t have any specified writer that I adore, that’s why I wondered why I was there… In that building. Finished lunch and prepared back home, but then I thought, maybe – I could unseal the plastic and read a little.
That was the first time I feel so excited to the book I have bought. I loved it !!!
I remember I couldn’t wait until arrive home to be back to Amy’s, I followed each story and found myself in there. I laughed, I touched, I amazed and also I realized one thing : that Amy knows me well…


“The Hundred Secret Senses” – that’s the book. I still have it with me along with all Amy’s.
I love the way Amy reveals about her mother – her auntie. It’s just like mothers in common, so honest. And so the people around her, her husband. The way she expressed her hate to her mother or how irritated she felt to her auntie Kwan, oh… I love it. I feel like there’s someone to represent my feeling, as if Amy is me and her mother is quite the same with my mother!
She able to express grief in a funny way and vice versa. Her mother is a big inspiration to her, their disputes in each story can makes me laugh or tongue-tied. Everything she wrote about her mother as if to expose my situation, as if it’s real, as if I was there, as if the girl was me… As if Amy pointing towards me and said “So, this should be you feel about your mother!”
Her quotes, even the words slipped in each sentences giving me a lesson, I highlighting words that touched me, e.g: “I learned to forgive myself, and that enable me to forgive my mother as a person” – “Whenever I’m with my mother, I feel as though I have to spend the whole time avoiding land mines.” – “I used to think that my mother got into arguments with people because they didn’t understand her English, because she was Chinese” and much more.


Well, “The Hundred Secret Senses” was a novel which translated in to Indonesian. As I finished the book and hunger for the new episode of Amy’s story, I went back to the same building. I remember how dumb I looked when found nothing new. So I approached the guy who was in duty at the time and ask if there another shelf where I could find Amy Tan’s book. I can’t forget how surprise his face as I spelled “Amy Tan”, he repeated “Emi-ran?”
“No… Amy Tan” I re-spelled it.
I wondered was it the sound of the music in that building that made him deaf? or was it me wrong-spelled the name? So I wrote down the paper and he read it then nodded then led me to another book-shelf, I relieved. But it ended just the same, “Nothing here, no Amy Tan” he said. “But wait…” He stopped me, “I found it! Here…” He handed me a book, but I already expected it, because the book is just the same book I have bought.
“No, I already have it, sorry…” and I walked out the building to another.
In another book-shop I re-doing the same way I spelled the name “Amy Tan”.
And this time more worst than the first. The lady in the book-shop sounded like hysteric when I mentioned the name. As if I just proclaimed her mother died hit by a truck.
” ‘Eny’ WHAT?!”
“Amy (or Emi as Indonesian spell it), Amy Tan.. Tan…”
“Eny One (or Anyone), oh I see… A book title.”
And so I back home with empty hands. No Amy, no new book. Oh, I finally found myself as a “little bookworm” – or “newbie bookworm”
A good friend of mine, she’s American, Donna Crook, who now disappeared without a trace, gave me a gift. It was Christmas Eve. She’s a big (my friends called her “huge”) women, divorced and sweet friend of mine. She knew that I addicted to read Amy Tan’s. So as she back from Penang, she brought this gift and handed to me on Christmas Eve.
“Open it” she insisted.
I obeyed her and mouth opened wide as I know what inside.
“Thank you…” I hugged her, and she hugged me even tight.
As we released off our hugging, she told me this, “I remember you looking for Amy Tan’s book. I just not sure if this one you already have with you”
“No.. I don’t have this one yet, thank you very much” and I meant it, I was very happy.
“I bought it in flea market”
I stunned for a moment then think “Who cares where this book bought from? It conditions alike with new!”
“I don’t care… Still, this is a precious gift you ever gave me” I said. She looked happy too…
This is the fact, that Amy Tan’s book is rare in my city. I don’t know where it’s wrong. Sometimes I think it’s only me who reading Amy Tan while others reading Mary Higgins Clark. Sometimes I think I’m the odd one because I chose something hard to find? And scary if I equate it with my destiny.
The fact that all books of Amy’s I collect entirely derived from Penang. I only have one originally bought in Indonesia, in my city Medan, it is The Hundred Secret Senses in Indonesian version. The rest which bought in Penang are written in English. As if I was challenged to read it and to understand it.
Amy’s here now with me, in my shelf. They are safe there.
Now I thinking about “Rules For Virgins” and “The Valley Of Amazement”.
Been order it from mate who went to Jakarta, wished he could find one for me. And the result is “not available”
This is what I hate about Amy Tan.
I can’t find it around, it’s not easy to have her. As if Indonesian people don’t know Amy Tan, as if they never heard the name. But look what I found in Goodreads, lots of Indonesian there reviewing books included Amy Tan’s books. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with this city????

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