BOOK REVIEW: Saving Fish from Drowning

Saving Fish from Drowning
by Amy Tan

San Francisco art patron Bibi Chen has planned a journey of the senses along the famed Burma Road for eleven lucky friends. But after her mysterious death, Bibi watches aghast from her ghostly perch as the travelers veer off her itinerary and embark on a trail paved with cultural gaffes and tribal curses, Buddhist illusions and romantic desires. On Christmas morning, the tourists cruise across a misty lake and disappear. With picaresque characters and mesmerizing imagery, Saving Fish from Drowning gives us a voice as idiosyncratic, sharp, and affectionate as the mothers of The Joy Luck Club. Bibi is the observant eye of human nature – the witness of good intentions and bad outcomes, of desperate souls and those who wish to save them. In the end, Tan takes her readers to that place in their own heart where hope is found.


I have had this book in my To Read pile for about 8 years. I never got much farther than 20 or 30 pages before losing focus/patience/track and setting it down. But it came highly recommended and I’ve loved so many of Tan’s books, I had to give this one last good effort. Turning the final page, I can say, it’s a great story told from a creative, fascinating point of view. And in that, it’s well worth the read. But unfortunately, that very point of view is what makes this story so cumbersome – too many characters, too much background information, and way too many sidetracks and side stories to ever really get a good foothold. — Jen Payne


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