Our second installment of Real Life Book Places is focused on San Francisco, one of the busiest cities in California (and quite possibly on the entire West Coast). There are plenty of reasons to visit San Francisco, but did you know that this tourist hotspot is also the backdrop of popular literary works such as The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett?
Tan’s The Joy Luck Club is a bestselling novel that focuses on four Chinese American immigrant families living in San Francisco who start a club (The Joy Luck Club). After its initial publication in 1989, it was adapted into a feature film directed by Wayne Wang and a play directed by Susan Kim. Though the book incorporates flashbacks that take place all over China, the present day setting of the book takes in the San Francisco Bay Area. To get a feel for Tan’s setting, take a walk through Chinatown, centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street.
The Maltese Falcon by Hammett is a classic detective novel that has been widely acknowledged as forerunner for the hard-boiled private investigator genre. The story was initially released as a series in a magazine, but has since been formalized into a novel and adapted to film several times. In fact, the 1941 Warner Bros. film noir version was nominated for three Academy Awards. There are plenty of places in San Francisco that you can find in The Maltese Falcon, but one of the most noteable sites is John Grill. Hammett points out in his narrative,
“[Sam Spade] went to John’s Grill, asked the waiter to hurry his order of chops, baked potato, and sliced tomatoes, ate hurriedly, and was smoking a cigarette when a thick-set youngish man with a plaid cap set askew above pale eyes and a tough cheery face came into the Grill and to his table.”
The Grill also owns its replica of the Maltese Falcon. Another site to see in San Francisco that is less widely publicized is Burritt Street. There’s a plaque that there marks the scene of the crime that sets Sam Spade’s search for the Black Bird in motion.
The Maltese Falcon is a must-read for young adult and adults interested in the mystery genre. The Joy Luck Club is an influential teen novel, perfect for community reads, big read programs and other education reading programs. Purchase Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and Tan’s The Joy Luck Club in bulk with BookPal, the leading wholesale book and eBook distributor. Search for wholesale textbooks, summer reading books, wholesale eBooks and other books in bulk at Book-Pal.com.