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Saving Fish from Drowning: A Novel Paperback – Sep 26 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 26 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034546401X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345464019
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #125,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Tan (The Bonesetter's Daughter) delivers another highly entertaining novel, this one narrated from beyond the grave. San Francisco socialite and art-world doyenne Bibi Chen has planned the vacation of a lifetime along the notorious Burma Road for 12 of her dearest friends. Violently murdered days before takeoff, she's reduced to watching her friends bumble through their travels from the remove of the spirit world. Making the best of it, the 11 friends who aren't hung over depart their Myanmar resort on Christmas morning to boat across a misty lake—and vanish. The tourists find themselves trapped in jungle-covered mountains, held by a refugee tribe that believes Rupert, the group's surly teenager, is the reincarnation of their god Younger White Brother, come to save them from the unstable, militaristic Myanmar government. Tan's travelers, who range from a neurotic hypochondriac to the debonair, self-involved host of a show called The Fido Files, fight and flirt among themselves. While ensemble casting precludes the intimacy that characterizes Tan's mother-daughter stories, the book branches out with a broad plot and dynamic digressions. 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. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Fish is based on the real-life disappearance of 12 American tourists in Myanmar. The narrator is Bibi Chen, dealer in Chinese antiquities, who had arranged an art-oriented tour for her friends. When she dies under mysterious circumstances, the others decide to proceed, saying that Bibi will join them in spirit–an invitation she accepts. Mostly well-meaning, but ignorant and naive, the group lands in one hilarious situation after another due to cultural misunderstandings. On a lake outing, they are kidnapped and taken to a hidden village where a rebel tribe waits for the Younger White Brother, who will make them invisible and bullet-proof and enable them to recover their land. They believe that theyve found him in 15-year-old Rupert, an amateur magician. The tour group consists of 10 adults and 2 adolescents, some pillars of the community and some decidedly not, but all rich, intelligent, and spoiled. Bibi, feisty and opinionated, uncovers their fears, desires, and motives, and the shades of truth in their words. As the novel progresses, they become more human and less stereotypical, changing as a result of their experiences. Although Tan also satirizes the tourist industry, American Buddhism, and reality TV, her focus is on the American belief that everyone everywhere plays by the same rules. An extremely funny novel with serious undercurrents.–Sandy Freund, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on July 15 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a "typical" Amy Tan novel about a Chinese mother and daughter, please be aware that this book doesn't follow Ms. Tan's marvelous prior novels into that rich story-telling vein. If you like satirical novels, you will wonder why Ms. Tan takes so long to lay waste to her targets.

But if you like novels rich in cultural and psychological irony, you've found a gem. I emphasize that point because irony is something that many readers avoid or don't enjoy very much. I find that there are too few well-written ironic novels, and I treasure all those that I find.

Like most stories about ironies, this one takes on such a broad theme that it can be easy to miss the message: Unintended consequences cause your purest impulses to backfire on you and on those you want to help. Ms. Tan's choice of a title gives a broad clue, in referring to an anonymous tale about a pious man who "saves" the lives of fish from drowning by catching them. When the fish die, he's disappointed but realizing that one must never waste anything, he sells the dead fishes to buy more nets . . . so he can save more fish from drowning.

Like a good symphony composer, Ms. Tan then endows her major characters with story lines that let them each play out that theme in their own variations. To make sure we get the point, each personal story is imbued with ironies that are both richly developed and humorous.

To be sure we understand that there are other forces at work, Ms. Tan sets as her initial narrator a wealthy patron of the arts who has just died . . . but is still lingering around to observe her own funeral . . . and the actions of the tour group she had organized.
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By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 17 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a departure for Tan from the mother/daughter relationships explored in her previous novels. In Saving Fish from Drowning we are swept away into the jungles of Burma with a group of 12 American tourists whose characteristics range from the eccentric to the timid and everything in between. This novel has everything: travel, mystery, adventure and humour. To cap it all off there is a sense of the supernatural that is explored as the narrator of the story is in the mystifying position of having found herself recently killed at the beginning of our story. This book is definitely in my top five reads of the year.
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By Sandra Rae on Feb. 25 2011
Format: Paperback
I loved this book for many reasons. The characters were quirky and believable. The plot was enchanting. The most compelling thoughts I had were how easily we make assumptions about other people and cultures and how wrong we are. The book showed very clearly how good intentions go bad, and often have the opposite effect to what we had planned. I also liked the idea of the narrator being a dead person
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This is in keeping with the standards of Amy Tan's previous novels. It's a very readable addition to her specialty of defining the clashes between Western and Eastern cultures, except this time it happens in Myanmar. Although it's in keeping with the themes of the rest of her books, it is still a unique, unpredictable plot that keeps you fervently turning pages and learning new things all the time.
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