Saving Fish From Drowning

by Amy Tan

This tale is quite a departure from Amy Tan’s well known and well received mother-daughter stories. Inspired by the real-life disappearance of 12 American tourists in Myanmar, the story is narrated by Bibi Chen, a San Francisco socialite and dealer in Chinese antiquities. She has arranged a tour to western China and Myanmar for her rich, art-loving friends. Shortly before departure, she dies under mysterious circumstances, and after some debate, the group decides to proceed with the tour, saying that Bibi will join them in spirit – an invitation she accepts.

Mostly well-meaning, but ignorant and naive, the travelers blunder their way through China and Myanmar, fighting and flirting, resulting in an entertaining travelog. Misfortunes seem to follow them everywhere, and then on the morning of Christmas Day, 11 of them board a boat and disappear into the mist.

While this book is not as memorable as her others, it is a wickedly funny and engaging read. At times Tan touches on heavy matters, such as genocide and government oppression, but she soon skips back to a light-hearted, humorous tone, thus dooming this book to a lesser status compared to her earlier works. The ending, where Bibi finds out the circumstances of her death, is probably the most Amy-Tanish part of the book, making me remember how great her other books were. Nonetheless, I like how the author steps outside her comfort zone to write a different novel, and will look forward to her next title.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 12:39 am  Leave a Comment  

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