I read Amy Tan's THE JOY LUCK CLUB (Turtleback, Adult) when I was in high school. The book features the mothers and daughters in several Chinese American families.The scene I still remember is the Chinese New Year crab dinner, hosted by June and her parents. Invited to the dinner are Lindo and Tin Jong and their daughter Waverly, a successful professional working at Price Waterhouse and former chess champion.
When the two were children, Waverly had said to June, "You aren't a genius like me" after June botched a piano recital. As adults, Waverly still torments June. During dinner, Waverly compliments June's hair, and in the same breath, she hints that June's stylist could give her AIDS. Waverly recommends her hair dresser to June and then implies that June might not be able to afford him. Finally June points out that Waverly's company hasn't paid her yet for her freelance writing work. Waverly smugly responds that the quality of June's writing isn't good enough by her company's standards. Waverly demonstrates that in spite of her looking-good-on-paper accomplishments, she is an awful dinner guest.
Being Chinese American, I feel particularly connected to this scene because it hits home. I've known people who behave like Waverly. The scene also shows the petty rivalries that can sometimes occur internally among members of a community, such as this story's Chinese American community. What I feel is behind this is an unspoken perception, true or false, that there's not enough of a resource to go around among the group. Approval and recognition for Chinese females, for example.
Have you read THE JOY LUCK CLUB? Have you ever hosted a terrible guest?