Title: Saving Fish from Drowning
Author: Amy Tan
First published January 1, 2005
472 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780345464019 (ISBN10: 034546401X)
In Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning, San Francisco socialite Bibi Chen plans an exotic trip along the Burma Road for a group of lucky friends. However, after Bibi’s sudden death, she watches from the afterlife as her friends venture off the planned itinerary, stumbling upon cultural misunderstandings, tribal curses, and romantic entanglements.
As the group disappears on Christmas morning, Bibi’s keen observations of human nature and the complexities of good intentions and bad outcomes come to light. Tan’s vivid descriptions and quirky characters draw readers in, providing a unique perspective on the human condition.
Ultimately, Saving Fish from Drowning is a heartwarming tale of hope and redemption that will leave readers contemplating their own place in the world.
About the Author
Meet Amy Tan, an accomplished American writer who explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships and growing up as a first-generation Asian American. Born on February 19, 1952, Tan is the author of several acclaimed books, including The Joy Luck Club, which was adapted into a successful film in 1993.
Her other works include The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and The Bonesetter’s Daughter, as well as a collection of essays titled The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings.
Tan’s most recent book, Saving Fish From Drowning, delves into the struggles faced by a group of individuals who vanish during an art expedition into the jungles of Burma. She has also written two children’s books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series aired on PBS.
As a strong advocate for writing, Tan has made appearances on PBS to encourage children to develop their writing skills.
Currently, Tan serves as the literary editor for West, the Sunday magazine of the Los Angeles Times. Her works continue to captivate readers with their unique perspectives and insights into the human experience.
Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning is an engrossing novel that blends magical realism, cultural exploration, and social commentary into a poignant and thought-provoking story. Tan, best known for her bestselling novel The Joy Luck Club, once again showcases her masterful writing talent and cultural insight in this powerful novel.
Set in modern-day San Francisco and in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, Saving Fish from Drowning tells the story of a group of American tourists who embark on a journey to the remote and mysterious country of Myanmar. However, their adventure takes a strange turn when their tour leader, Bibi Chen, mysteriously disappears, leaving the group stranded and lost in the Burmese wilderness.
As they struggle to survive and find their way back to civilization, they encounter a host of strange and fascinating characters, both human and supernatural, who challenge their preconceptions and reveal the hidden truths of Myanmar’s tumultuous history and cultural heritage. At the heart of the story is Bibi Chen, an enigmatic and complex character who serves as the catalyst and guide for the group’s journey.
As the story unfolds, we learn more about Bibi’s personal history, her family dynamics, and her cultural identity, providing a rich and nuanced portrait of the Burmese experience. Along the way, the novel explores themes of identity, belonging, spirituality, and political oppression, weaving together the personal and the political in a seamless and compelling way.
Tan’s prose is vivid, lyrical, and evocative, painting a vivid picture of the Burmese landscape, culture, and people. She effortlessly blends humor and tragedy, magic and reality, creating a complex and nuanced world that feels both familiar and exotic.
The characters are equally vivid and memorable, each with their own quirks and flaws, but all connected by their shared humanity and longing for connection. However, the novel is not without its flaws.
The pacing can be slow at times, and the supernatural elements may feel jarring to readers who are not familiar with the Burmese mythology and folklore. Additionally, some readers may find the ending too abrupt and unsatisfying, leaving loose threads that are never fully resolved.
Despite these minor flaws, Saving Fish from Drowning is a remarkable achievement, an ambitious and heartfelt novel that offers a fresh and insightful perspective on the human experience. It is a must-read for fans of Amy Tan and anyone interested in exploring the complexities of cross-cultural relationships and the impact of political upheavals on individuals and communities.
Highly recommended. Rating: 4.5/5 stars.