The author of The Joy Luck Club visits Houston to discuss her latest book in Books in Conversation: Amy Tan, The Valley of Amazement. It took Tan eight years to write Valley. She was already working on another novel but was waylaid when she saw an old photograph of Chinese courtesans. Tan was struck because a family photo showed her grandmother as a young woman, in the same dress and pose as the courtesans. The photo sparked an idea in Tan: Was her grandmother the chaste, conservative young woman her family thought she was, or was she something else? After exploring her grandmother’s history and finding more information that suggested the family stories she had heard about her grandmother weren’t quite accurate, Tan crafted an epic story of two Chinese women separated by time and place and their search for self-identity.