Amy Tan is the narrator as well, the first bit is an explaination of where the story line came from and how it developed. As your ear grows more accustomed to Ms. Tan's voice, it smoothes out the story and you don't want the CD to end. A fairly complex cast of characters, initially difficult to keep track of, but each has their own place in the story. I found myself wanting to verify historical and contempory events as the rich decriptions of a far away land were intriguing and amusing at the same time. An informative tale of a distant culture that became entwined with the west, very enjoyable, not light or cozy.
I thought this started out a bit slow & confusing but then got much better after the second disk (I think it had more to do with the history of the story before the story begins) - it was a good intriguing story I was listening both in my car & in my house because their were parts I didn't want to pause on. The finish was a fantastic surprise. Again I thought Amy Tan did a wonderful job of weaving a beautiful story that entwines it readers, her attention to detail is amazing and it allows you to easily visual what is happening. I love Amy Tan books but wasn't sure this one would be as interesting as others, so I opted for the CD copy instead of the book and I'm glad I did, otherwise I might not have gotten around to reading the book - and it is a story worth reading.
I had a hard time getting through the first chapter of this book. It all became relevant later, but at the beginning I wasn't that interested in hearing about the narrator's childhood and funeral and all that. It was confusing and I think it should have been more integrated. Once the story delved into the tourist trip, the "dead narrator" device became interesting. Unfortunately, the tone continued to ramble up until the last third of the book. There would be times I was very interested in the storyline, but then the narrative would go flying off in some other direction and my mind would wander. The novel would have been better served if she'd stayed with the surprisingly compelling kidnapping plot, allowed herself to adopt the thriller conventions to her own use, and sacrificed a few chapters for relevance. I did love the way it ended, where she made it clear that the events of the book changed the lives of the characters, but did not totally remake the world or their worlds, individually. So the character notes were well done. Amy Tan employs a certain epigram-like writing style in this book and frequently drops in a little bite-sized line containing some poignant insight. The book overall is uneven, but it's an enjoyable book.
Amy Tan's lively reading of this audiobook lends dimension to the story. My only criticism has to do with the many little tangential back stories that, while enlightening, at times seem to disrupt the flow of the plot. The behaviors, words and eccentricities of the travelers vis a vis the part of the world they travel in speak for themselves. On the other hand, back stories about the Chinese and Burmese people added valuable insight into how two different cultures can clash at times and yet, at other times, demonstrate how kindness and a gesture of friendship make us all the more human no matter what part of the world we are in. I enjoyed Tan's idea of taking the twelve travelers completely out of their familiar spaces and thrusting them into places and situations where, almost totally defenseless, their perceptions of what is versus what "really" is are rocked to their core. I enjoyed listening to this book and recommend it.
While not Amy Tan's best- It drags but the premise is good and it is different. If you like Amy Tan you will like this novel. I had a hard time with it but I actually love the narrator- Bibi and her sense of humor. I feel like she is truly an "Amy Tan" creation. I am also learning a lot from Bibi's tour guide teaching as well as her perspective on the other chracter's thoughts and ways. BUT I cannot relate to any of the other characters at all nor can I feel for them... so I trudged along with this book for Bibi...
Very good book, even though the story drags a bit at times. An American Chinese woman arranges a trip to Burma for herself and a group of friends. She dies before the trip begins, but accompanies her friends as a ghost. The group gets into trouble, due to their general ignorance and cultural insensitivity. One morning the whole group disappears. Very nice characterizations.
Amy Tan writes a lovely book following a group of friends that take a trip together to Burma. The tour guide has died prior to the trip, but goes along to narrate the book. We hear from the characters in their own words and the narrator tells us the real happenings. Very interesting read... some asian history mixed in to make it exciting and informative.
What really happened to the tour group when they vanished while on an expidition.....
This is very different from Tan's earlier works, and it may have been a little deep for me. Or I just don't know enough about Burma's issues. She is, as always, a marvelous wordsmith - even when the first-person narrator dies shortly before the novel begins.
I was so excited to read Amy Tan's newest book but I was so disappointed! This book is weird, boring, confusing, and nothing like Ms. Tan's other great novels. I only made it half way through and I had to force myself to get that far. Save yourself from drowning in this one.
Twelve Americans journey together to see the art and culture of Burma. What an intriguing cast of characters, and what twists and turns await them. This story is rich in humor, love, and unexpected horrors.
I *love* Amy Tan's work and I enjoyed this one, although I found that the crazy plot and action distracted from her usual ethereal, humorous style. Still a good read, though not quite as magical as her others.
I love Amy Tan and have read all of her books. So I ran out and bought this book immediately. This one is a departure from her other books and I just could not get into it. She lost me about half way through and I had no desire to finish. Unfortunately, this book was a big disappointment to me. Save yourself from this book!
I think I am in the minority in that I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but once the big event happened, I lost interest. I finished it, and I would say that overall it was an interesting book, full of interesting information that I had no idea about.
As far as the characters go, I felt like the narrator (Bibi) deliberately made them unlikeable. Because I honestly didn't really care if they lived or died. Well maybe a little, but I was hoping at least one of them would bite it.
I like amy tan and loved this book and almost could not put it down and it was a truthfull and insightfull look at myanmar and they are a very dictorial society from everything I have read . I loved the charecters and I could actually see all of these ppl traveling together and Loved the ending too .
Although this book is somewhat a removal from both of the other Amy Tan books which I have read (The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife) in that the narrator of this book is not only a character in the book but is also dead, it is a very interesting look into the old Burma and what is today called "Myanmar." I think that with all of the news coverage of the problems in the Middle East we tend to forgrt or overlook the smaller, less Oil Involved struggles taking place in our world. The quest for power is as insatiable as the quest for crude oil but because it doesn't affect our way of life our heads tend to turn the other way....away from the atrocities being done to normal every day persons like ourselves, however far removed from us physically. Although, as always, Ms. Tan's book contains a healthy amount of humor it is interspersed with very real injustices going on in our world both in the past and today with a very interesting glimpse into a culture so extremely different from our own that that in itsself is intrisicly interesting in and of itself. I feel the need to thank Ms. Tan on creating another multi-faceted and fascinating novel.
Tan's fanciful tale of a group of Americans on a tour to Burma that goes horribly (and often hysterically) wrong also zings the reader with the notion that people who wish to "help" third-world countries need to carefully understand all the results of their meddling.
I finished all 457 pages of this novel, but sometimes it was a chore. Tan tries to do a "Canterbury Tales" type book with 12 characters, but there are too many for the reader to care about any of them. The plot is a stretch. There is only one part that worked for me, when everyone's secrets come out and the reader gains some depth into their souls. Definitely not up to Tan's usual storytelling standard.
This is an interesting look at what can go wrong when the stereotypical "Ugly American" goes on tour in a third world country. In an amusing twist, the narrator is the dead woman who was supposed to lead the tour. Not Amy Tan's best, but vivid characters and locations.
Amy Tan is one of the most interesting writers around. This book Saving Fish From Drowning, caught my interest right away. The setting in Burma is exotic, and the characters are interesting. Plot twists in the story kept my interest. I recommend this book highly.
I couldn't get into this book-and that's rare for me in an Amy Tan book. Usually she can weave a story that makes you want to keep reading, but I was so confused by the ending. This was not as good as some of her earlier works.
I would agree with Anna that it's a little weird. One strand parodies events in Myanmar in the past 10 years (the Htoo twins), another pokes fun at American tourists, and the narrator is a hoot. It had a great beginning and a great ending, with the middle being weird.
I almost quit. But after the 2nd cassette it became fascinating. I couldn't stop listening. It has action, suspence,descriptions of real people in real relationships, & perceptions from many cultures as well as ages from children to adults. It left me searching my soul & questioning my values. Near the end, I understood why the first 2 cassettes were necesssary. They set up the background which the rest of the story depends on. I loved it!
Having just returned from my first trip to China, I appreciated having a chance to mentally remain in the Far East by listening to this book, read by the author Amy Tan. The story is about a group of American tourists visiting Burma who cannot be found after an early morning boat ride. The story is rich in character development with many mystical and cultural elements. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was sorry when the book ended.I looked forward to my ride to and from work every day just so I could listen to the next chapters.
This book by the author of the "Joy Luck Club" is a great read. The characters are well developed and there are interesting comments on the cultural landscape in Burma. If you liked the Joy Luck Club, you will enjoy this.
I like Amy Tans writing style and this book had a really interesting genesis. According to the introduction at the start of the book, Tan was caught in the rain in New York and came across a building marked American Society for Psychical Research. That sounded like an awesome place to escape the rain, so she went in and spent the rest of the day reading automatic writing, when she came across writing supposedly channeled from one Bibi Chen, someone Tan had known when she was alive. She contacted the woman who channeled Chen and they talked a lot and that inspired this book.
This book is narrated by Bibi Chen, post-morten, as she follows a tour group she helped organize before her death comprised of 12 of her friends. They went to China for a bit, then on to Burma where they were kidnapped by a separatist tribe in the jungle when they mistake one of the tourists for the reincarnation of their mythical savior, Little White Brother. Theres a whole big media circus that follow and eventually the group is rescued, even though the idiots never actually realized theyd been kidnapped (they thought they were only stranded in the village when the rope bridge over a canyon went down). Because Bibi is dead, she can kind of see/hear everyones thoughts so you get to see the events through the eyes of many different characters. Tan is a great writer and the story is really interesting and you can picture everything perfectly.
The problem was, I didnt like any of the characters. The women were obnoxious enough, but I fucking hate the men. HATED. It wasnt like Tan was trying to make them all into awful misogynists, but she did a great job of making them into believable, common American men, which unfortunately means there is a lot of banal sexism in them as a matter of course. Like, one guy just automatically ascribes nefarious motives to womens (especially his wifes) reactions to everything, imagining theyre trying to undermine him or are trying to emotionally punish him by withrawing from him when actually theyre just confused by what just happened. And another guywell, he pissed in a stone sculpture of a vulva at a holy site in China. That should tell you everything you need to know about how he treats women. But they were all so naive, ethnocentric, and condescending, even while congratulating themselves on how open-minded, adventurous, and generous they are. I know thats such a common attitutde in America (Ive met more people like that than I can count), but it was just so irritating. By the end of the book, I wanted the Karen tribe to just push them over the canyon and into the river and be done with it.
Having enjoyed other books by Amy Tan, I was disappointed in this book. Picked it up twice as I'm the kind of person who doesn't usually give up on a book but honestly couldn't get into the storyline. It was boring and the story doesn't seem to ever develop. Maybe the third try will be a charm but not ready to try again at this point.
I put off reading this book for a long time because of the horrible reviews. I can see some of the reviewers points, but overall, I really enjoyed this novel.
This is definitely a departure from Tan's normal novels about the relationships between Chinese-born mothers and their Chinese-American mothers. Although she does a wonderful job capturing the dynamics of those relationships, while weaving in fascinating glimpses of Chinese history, I'm glad to see her trying something new.
A few of the characters in this novel are Chinese, but the majority are not. One of the criticisms I have read is that she has too many prominent characters and therefore spreads her character development too thin. I agree somewhat, but beyond the narrator, the recently deceased, but always bigger than life Bibi Chen, the plot is more important.
Plot-wise, this is also a huge change for Tan. This is an adventure novel which ventures into the land of magical realism. This begins with the idea that Bibi's spirit is following her friends on the trip through China and Burma that she was supposed to lead.
Thrown into the mix is a glimpse of life in the military regime of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Overall, this was a great read, which I found to be relatively quick, despite it's healthy length.
"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."
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i picked this up in the domicile at work and have had it for a while, but someone just requested it on my book swap.
i thought this was a great book- short synopsis. Bibi Chen has planned a vacation to Burma for her and 11 of her friends. A few days before they embark on their trip, Bibi Chen is murdered. She becomes the narrator of this intriguing story.
The 11 friends continue on their journey, coming across some interesting tour guides, changing their itinerary when they please, and end up disappearing on Christmas Day.
As the story unfolds you get to meet the characters and get such a good description of them. (I love getting to know characters!) Parts of this book are hilarious, and just so believable.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story, wants to learn more about other countries, and who likes Amy Tan. So glad I picked this up!!
It's not often an author reads their own book. It adds something to the story. Amy Tan has a unique voice that allows you to see the story unfolding brfore your eyes. feeling the breeze and hear the bells.
From the cover . . . "San Francisco art patron Bibi Chen has planned a journey of the senses along the famed Burma Road for eleven lucky friends. But after her mysterious death, Bibi watches aghast from her ghostly perch as the travelers veer off her itinerary and embark on a trail paved with cultural gaffes and tribal curses, Buddhist illusions and romantic desires. On Christmas morning, the tourists cruise across a mistly lake and disappear."
Tourists in trouble, or tourists just being tourists. Set in Burma, current day Myanmar, with a group of 12 Americans. It uses in depth character developement, exotic locations and activities, and Amy Tan's wonderful writing to keep the reader interested. This set of CD's in excellent condition, the novel is read by the author.
From Our Editors
"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." Amy Tan's novel of 11 Americans stranded in Burma possesses the resonance of the fable of the Burmese fisherman. Another compelling fiction by the author of The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter's Daughter.
From the Publisher
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." - Anonymous
Twelve American tourists join an art expedition that begins in the Himalayan foothills of China - dubbed the true Shangri-La - and heads south into the jungles of Burma. But after the mysterious death of their tour leader, the carefully laid plans fall apart, and disharmony breaks out among the pleasure-seekers as they come to discover that the Burma Road is paved with less-than-honorable intentions, questionable food, and tribal curses.
And then, on Christmas morning, eleven of the travelers boat across a misty lake for a sunrise cruise - and disappear.
Drawing from the current political reality in Burma and woven with pure confabulation, Amy Tan's picaresque novel poses the question: How can we discern what is real and what is fiction, in everything we see? How do we know what to believe? Saving Fish from Drowning finds sly truth in the absurd: a reality TV show called Darwin's Fittest, a repressive regime known as SLORC, two cheroot-smoking twin children hailed as divinities, and a ragtag tribe hiding in the jungle - where the sprites of disasterknown as Nats lurk, as do the specters of the fabled Younger White Brother and a British illusionist who was not who he was worshipped to be.
With her signature "idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters, haunting images, historical complexity, significant contemporary themes, and suspenseful mystery" (Los Angeles Times), Amy Tan spins a provocative and mesmerizing tale about the mind and the heart of the individual, the actions we choose, the moral questions we might ask ourselves, and above all, the deeply personal answers we seek when happy endings are seemingly impossible.