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Saving Fish From Drowning

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By Amy Tan

Amy Tan has a quiet wisdom about her. Her writing sneaks up on you like the flavor of a tea you at first think might be too bland but winds up delighting.

Saving Fish From Drowning is told from the perspective of an eccentric socialite and art lover who is dead. She dies right in the beginning of the book and then narrates the entire story from the world beyond. She had planned to take an exotic trip to Burma with 11 of her closest friends and act as their tour guide. When the group decides to go even without their compatriot, much trouble befalls them – and the dead friend is there in spirit to see and relate it all.

What I love the most about Amy Tan is how the real and the magical are one and the same. There is no pause to alert the reader to fancy – it’s just woven in. I love her language. I love her love of symbolism, as the title would suggest. In fact, the only part I wasn’t crazy about was the somewhat contrived convention of the story of the journey. Foreigners being out of their element and learning who they are along the way is a little hackneyed, but in the hands of Amy Tan – less so.

I give an only slightly qualified thumbs up to Amy Tan’s latest bestseller, Saving Fish from Drowning. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio, I’m Amanda Dickson.

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