On an ill-fated art expedition into the southern Shan state of Burma,
eleven Americans leave their Floating Island Resort for a
Christmas-morning tour - and disappear. Through twists of fate,
curses, and just plain human error, they find themselves deep in the
jungle, where they encounter a tribe awaiting the return of the leader
and the mythical book of wisdom that will protect them from the
ravages and destruction of the Myanmar military regime.
Filled with Amy Tan's signature "idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters, haunting images, historical complexity, significant contemporary themes, and suspenseful mystery" (Los Angeles Times), Saving Fish from Drowning seduces the reader with a façade of Buddhist illusions, magician's tricks, and light comedy, even as the absurd and picaresque spiral into a gripping morality tale about the consequences of intentions - both good and bad - and about the shared responsibility that individuals must accept for the actions of others.
A pious man explained to his followers: "It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. 'Don't be scared,' I tell those fishes. 'I am saving you from drowning.' Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes."
A Brief History of My Shortened Life
It was not my fault. If only the group had followed my original
itinerary without changing it hither, thither, and yon, this debacle would never
have happened. But such was not the case, and there you have it, I regret to
"Following the Buddha's Footsteps" is what I named the expedition. It was to have begun in the southwestern corner of China, in Yunnan Province, with vistas of the Himalayas and perpetual spring flowers, and then to have continued south on the famed Burma Road. This would allow us to trace the marvelous influence of various religious cultures on Buddhist art over a thousand years and a thousand milesa fabulous journey into the past. As if that were not enough appeal, I would be both tour leader and personal docent, making the expedition a truly value-added opportunity. But in the wee hours of December 2nd, and just fourteen days before we were to leave on our expedition, a hideous thing happened . ...
If you, like most BookBrowse members, enjoy books that inform while they entertain, I think you will find much to appreciate in Saving Fish From Drowning.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (706 words).
novel's foreword Amy Tan informs
readers that Saving Fish...
is loosely based on a true
story, and even reproduces an
article from the San Francisco
confusingly, the San Francisco
Chronicle's own review seems to
imply that no such
story was ever printed.
She provides an explanation of her book's title as follows: A pious man explained to his followers: "It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I ...
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