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-honourable intentions, questionable food, and tribal curses.
And then, on Christmas morning, eleven of the travellers 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 disaster known 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.