The upcoming new novel “The Valley of Amazement” by Chinese American writer Amy Tan, author of the much-loved “The Joy Luck Club,” is seeing a steady uptick in promotional activity prior to its scheduled official release on November 11th, 2013.

One such move, as reported in The Bookseller, is a 42-page digital-only extract from the new novel, entitled “Rules for Virgins,” released in the UK over Kindle on July 4 by HarperCollins imprint Fourth Estate, following its prior release in the U.S. in December 2011 by American imprint Byliner as a Kindle Single.

Amy TanThe Bookseller quotes Clare Reihill, editorial director at Fourth Estate, as inspired to experiment by the U.S. move, in order to reward and intrigue Tan’s existing fans. “Rules for Virgins” apparently works well as a standalone extract, although further enriched by its context in the complete book.

According to the HarperCollins Canada blurb, “The Valley of Amazement” is, “a sweeping, evocative epic of two women’s intertwined fates and their search for identity … Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement sweeps the reader along a deeply moving narrative of family secrets, the legacies of traumas, and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, returning readers to the compelling territory Tan so expertly mapped in The Joy Luck Club.”

Tan’s own website explains the genesis behind the story, as well as its protracted genesis:

“Over the eight years it took to write The Valley of Amazement, there were major  distractions: Multiple visits to a Dong minority village in the most remote province in China to write a story for National Geographic. Writing libretto for the opera The Bonesetter’s Daughter.  Building an all-accessible house.  And there was a major detour when I discovered a photograph, which then turned the novel upside down and led me to start over.”

Amy TanNow, I can understand protracted writing periods for authors. But HarperCollins apparently acquired “The Valley of Amazement” back in March 2011? What took them all this time? And why has it taken over half a year for a UK publisher to follow up on the U.S. imprint’s digital extract? Do Big Five publishers think the world simply stands still waiting for their marketing cycles? If there are so many avid UK Tan fans out there, wouldn’t they have been tempted to pirate the U.S. excerpt in the intervening months?

I assume Tan’s legion followers are actually going to go out and buy the book no matter how hard HarperCollins tries to choreograph its promotion. So why keep them waiting this long? China has hardly dropped off global radar screens as a topic of interest, after all.

This drip-feeding of teasers seems more likely to put the reader off or even lessen their interest. Or perhaps there are legitimate reasons for the long delay. I just wish someone would tell me what they are.


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