Commencement speaker for Grinnell College

GRINNELL, Iowa — Born in the United States to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan, author of six novels and two memoirs, will give the 2019 commencement address at Grinnell College on Monday, May 20. She also will accept an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

During the commencement ceremony, 389 seniors, who have been prepared by their Grinnell educations to contribute to the common good, will receive Bachelor of Arts degrees.

“A great liberal arts education like Grinnell’s truly liberates students,” said Michael Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. “It enables them to discover talents, interests and abilities they didn’t know they possessed, and to bring them to bear in a world that truly needs their help. Supported by a wonderful and devoted faculty and staff, Grinnell’s students learn, grow and stretch themselves toward that goal each day.”

Grinnell College’s Commencement exercises, which are open to the public, will start at 10 a.m.

in central campus. If the weather is inclement, the ceremony will be held in the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center, 1201 10th Ave., Grinnell. No tickets are required. The ceremony also will be live-streamed at

Tan burst onto the national literary scene in 1989 with “The Joy Luck Club,” an award-winning novel that was on the New York Times bestseller list for 77 weeks and sold nearly 6 million copies. When it became a film, she stayed involved as a co-producer and co-writer. She followed it up with five more novels, which have been translated into 35 languages.

Her latest book, “Where the Past Begins,” is a writing memoir that critics call “a must-read for the ages.” Tan also performed as a vocalist with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a literary musical supergroup including Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver and Scott Turow that raised more than $2 million for literacy programs before ending its tours.