Nahuatl, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Nahuatl)
Super interesting, I could not put it down because of the intrigue, I love when stories are based on partly real facts while at the same time there is aspects you find hard to believe, like that the narrator is already dead but speaking from beyond.
Shoshana, December 30, 2009 (view all comments by Shoshana)
While not Tan's best, this was an enjoyable and relatively quick read. The narrator is the ghost of a woman who died shortly before she was to have lead a tour group to Burma. The group decides to go anyway but immediately begins changing her itinerary. The ghost follows them as their deviations put them in greater and greater danger. The narrative voice wavers at times, but Tan's use of this frame allows her to make observations and jokes that require a non-omniscient and sometimes politically incorrect voice. I found the novel sometimes poignant and often funny, in a ratio opposite of my usual reading of Tan.
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boannextra, November 22, 2009 (view all comments by boannextra)
At first I thought that the group of people who ended up disappearing must be the most clueless group of Americans who ever traveled abroad. Once I learned that the narrator, Bibi Chen, was also a fictional character, and the novel was a fantasy about what happens when a hapless group of Americans, through the best of intentions, but horribly unaware of others and other cultures, wind up lost in Burma/Myannmar - a country too often in the news for the brutality of its political suppression, I appreciated the novel much more. Tan effectively mixes a satirical sense of humor with very touching descriptions of how a repressed people are affected by the actions of a harsh regime.
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Elizabeth Grimsrud, November 21, 2009 (view all comments by Elizabeth Grimsrud)
There are so many levels to this book that it is a joy to read. So much of the action seemingly stems from miscommunication, whether between friends or cultures, with one thing leading to the next. Wrapped within the adventure story resulting from these misunderstandings, is another tale of the brutal injustices of the Mayanmar Military Government.
sancy, March 11, 2007 (view all comments by sancy)
I rarely reread books but I did with this one. The story is engaging, the characters are quirky yet believable. I would love to sit down and talk to Amy about the source of the story , a psychic medium who channeled the narrator after her mysterious death. Truth is always stranger than fiction which may account for this very bizzare tale. Amy's writing is inspired, as are her insights into human nature. Great job Amy. My favorite of your books so far. Can't wait for the next.
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Putnam Publishing Group -
Saving Fish from Drowning is a funny, almost magical look at group dynamics, altruism, and self-interest set against the beauty and repressive politics of Myanmar. Impressive and surprisingly moving.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"[Tan's] most politically astute and shrewdly satirical tale to date..."
by School Library Journal,
"An extremely funny novel with serious undercurrents."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"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."
by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
"[A] strange and fascinating trip..."
by Providence Journal,
"This is the perfect winter book....Rich with mystery and culture, this is a novel that will put you under its spell — under Tan's spell — and entertain you through a blizzard, a post-holiday escape, or just a long night of R and R."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"The novel...lacks the tender, intergenerational wisdom and delicate East-West insights of Tan's earlier work....Tan is a prodigious talent, but Saving Fish From Drowning needs its own search and rescue team."
by Houston Chronicle,
"Tan's new book poses many of her familiar questions, but in unfamiliar ways."
by Baltimore Sun,
"[A]ll Tan's trademark strengths — her lush language, her memorable characters, her wide-ranging curiosity about people and history — quickly come to the fore."
by Miami Herald,
"Saving Fish from Drowning is a new sort of adventure for Tan, an assured step in a thrilling new direction....[A] grand comic novel...sharp and droll..."
by USA Today,
"A hilarious yet politically charged tale....[A] rollicking, adventure-filled story."
On an ill-fated art expedition into Burma, 11 Americans leave their Floating Island Resort for a Christmas-morning tour — and disappear. Through twists of fate, they encounter a tribe awaiting the return of a leader and the mythical book of wisdom that will protect them from the ravages of the Myanmar military regime.
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