Daisy Tan, 83, the mother of author Amy Tan and inspiration for her second novel, the 1991 book "The Kitchen God's Wife," died Nov. 22 in her home in San Francisco. She had Alzheimer's disease.
Amy Tan, encouraged by her mother to switch from freelance writing to novels, gained fame with her first, "The Joy Luck Club," in 1989. It told the story of four Chinese immigrant mothers and their American daughters and became a popular motion picture in 1993.
In dedicating that book to her mother, the author wrote: "You asked me once what I would remember. This, and much more."
The second book came about, Amy Tan said in a 1991 interview, because "after she read `Joy Luck Club,' my mother said she thought I had a great imagination because she thought none of the stuff in `Joy Luck Club' had happened. She said, `Next time, tell my true story.' "
Like Winnie Louie, the heroine of "The Kitchen God's Wife," Daisy Tan related to her daughter the story of her hard life and abusive marriage in China before she moved to San Francisco in 1949.
"The Kitchen God's Wife," Amy Tan said when it was published, was the "much more" she referred to in the dedication to the first book.
Daisy Tan fled Shanghai to escape her abusive first husband, leaving three daughters behind as well.
When she arrived in San Francisco, she married Baptist minister John Tan, the father of the author and two sons.
When her husband and one son died of brain cancer in 1968, Mrs. Tan took her surviving son and Amy to Switzerland to escape what she called the "diseased" house in San Francisco. But a year later, she brought her children home to Northern California.
Daisy Tan was later reunited with her Chinese daughters and remained close to the author.
"My mother said to me about 20 years ago, during a moment when we weren't getting along well, `If I die, what will you remember?' " Amy Tan told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I realized I had no idea what I'd remember, and what was important. My first book was in answer to her question.
"In a way, she was really my muse," Tan said. "She was not a literary person. She was not someone who read fiction. She did not read most of my books. And yet she was my muse.
"The questions she had, the fact she never felt that anything was impossible -- what's in all of my books is the quality of hope that she had in her life."
Besides the author, Daisy Tan is survived by one son and three other daughters; two brothers; and seven grandchildren.