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."
The Washington Post - Craig Nova
By chance, before reading Saving Fish from Drowning, [I read] a story by Amy Tan called "Rules of the Game," which is a perfect exercise of perspective, character and language. This story was often on my mind when I tried to get through her new novel, since I was mystified as to what had happened to the author of such a lovely, precise and entertaining story.
The San Francisco Chronicle - Sara Peyton
Tan's hilarious new novel arrives at a time when we aren't laughing much at the news of the day. How much you enjoy "Saving Fish From Drowning" may have to do with how willing you are to be bewitched by a superbly executed, goodhearted farce that is part romance and part mystery with a political bent. With Tan's many talents on display, it's her idiosyncratic wit and sly observations about the nature of illusion that make this book pure pleasure. And by the end, all the travelers, including one charming tiny dog, seem like old friends.
Library Journal - Maureen Neville
Tan has admirably tackled the unique challenge of building a novel based on a real-life incident and turning the resulting tale into a commentary on the ironies of modern life. Recommended for all libraries.
The author's research ultimately smothers her story and characters. A pity, because this vividly imagined tale might very well have been her best yet.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review. Although Tan's fiction is vitally realistic, she is drawn to otherworldly realms, however archly.
Starred Review. It's based on a true story, and Tan seems to be having fun with it, indulging in the wry, witty voice of Bibi while still exploring her signature questions of fate, connection, identity and family.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by JaneN Clueless Travelers Amy Tan introduces us to a group of people who are out for an adventure, so they sign up with their friend and guide, Bebi Chen. The problems start when Bebi dies, or is she murdered ? The group decides to go on without her, in her memory and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Mattie B I KNOW these people! I enjoyed reading the sharp and telling character studies in "Saving Fish..." I used to work with a charity that had extensive contact with very wealthy people. The Burma tour group could have all been in one or another of my committees... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dawn Griffiths Saving fish from drowning I am an Amy Tan fan, However, I would not recommend this book at all. I read through the first half as a holiday read, but as they started "watching reality shows in the jungle", my interest wained, and then,stopped. It was just so dull, I couldn't... Read More
Rated of 5
by mjc I thought it was pretty good I did find that this book was a bit too long, but the descriptions were lovely, I enjoyed the banter between the tourists and appreciated that it was difficult to make an interesting story about a real life event.
Rated of 5
by Annoyed Saving Fish From Drowning I was neither intrigued by this book nor bored. The only reason I finished this book was because I had to for a class. granted the story was good and the relationship between the tourists were fun to watch unravel, but Tan drags the story on for... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jennifer Save yourself and Skip this Book Let me start with I completely agree with the other review. I love Amy Tam but I found it extremely difficult to finish this book. While the text of the book is beautifully written the story rambles.
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 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....
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...