Saving Fish From Drowning

Saving Fish From Drowning

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A provocative new novel from the bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter's Daughter .

On an ill-fated art expedition into the southern Shan state of Burma, eleven Americans leave their Floating Island Resort for a Christmas-morning tour-and disappear. Through twists of fate, curses, and just plain human error, they find themselves deep in the jungle, where they encounter a tribe awaiting the return of the leader and the mythical book of wisdom that will protect them from the ravages and destruction of the Myanmar military regime.

Saving Fish from Drowning seduces the reader with a fagade of Buddhist illusions, magician's tricks, and light comedy, even as the absurd and picaresque spiral into a gripping morality tale about the consequences of intentions-both good and bad-and about the shared responsibility that individuals must accept for the actions of others.

A pious man explained to his followers: "It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. 'Don't be scared,' I tell those fishes. 'I am saving you from drowning.' Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes."
Publisher: New York : G. P. Putnam's, 2005
ISBN: 9780399153013
Branch Call Number: TAN
Characteristics: xv, 474 p. ;,24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Aug 08, 2016

An interesting book, narrated through writings recorded by Karen Lundegaard's of Bibi Chen. What I liked the least were the in-depth descriptions of the 12 tourists; what was most enjoyable was the trials and tribulations of these individuals of their time in China and with the Karen in Burma.
Those who wish a deeper knowledge of the violence and genocide on the part of the military in Burma (Myanmar), you might read the autobiography of Zoya Phan entitled "Little Daughter".

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 24, 2015

Unlikely circumstances lead to the disappearance of a group of Americans during their cultural tour of Burma. The group are led to the jungle where they get an insider view of the ideals and sacrifices that many Burmese are making in their determination to overthrow the represssive military regime that currently has a stranglehold on the country. Amy Tan brilliantly juxtaposes deadly serious subjects such as genocide, social responsibility and human rights with hilarious situations and lightweight characters whose actions often verge on slapstick. None of the characters escape Tan's ironic take on life, neither the Americans nor the Burmese. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and admire an author who can make me laugh out loud, but has left me with many issues to revisit.

Dec 29, 2014

Best Amy Tan book I've read. I loved it.

Jul 11, 2014

Loved Amy tan writing, however this book failed to lived up to its charm. Slow moving and non engaging plots

Aug 01, 2011

Very interesting book. Humor, sarcasm, details, knowledge, drama.
You read it very fast

Sep 14, 2009

This book did not receive the attention it deserved. Amy Tan is better known for her earlier books, but she is still writing wonderfully. This novel will take you on a trip into Burma, and along the way you will gain a new perspective on what is happening when we North Americans venture into Asia. Great settings, and great observations of life and travel. The weakness of the novel is the last chapter...the story is really over, but Tan just can't let it go yet.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Jun 22, 2014

ehuang8 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary

EPLPicks_Teen Apr 07, 2010

Twelve American tourists join an art expedition that begins in China and continues into the jungles of Burma. The original tour leader dies just before the trip, but in spirit form she follows the group's misadventures.


Add a Quote

Jun 12, 2016

“I read to escape to a more interesting world, not to be locked up in a sweltering prison and find myself vicariously standing among people who are tortured beyond the limits of sanity.”


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number Get NoveList Reading Recommendations

Subject Headings


Find it at PMPL

To Top