Book Review: Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan

Many thanks to Stephanie Barrows, one of two book winners last year who agreed to review the books they won. Today’s review is on “Saving Fish From Drowning” by Amy Tan.


Saving Fish from Drowning

Saving Fish From Drowning was my first novel by Amy Tan. Admittedly, most of my literary brushes with Chinese-American culture have come through either movies (coming of age stories and martial arts fantasies) or historical novels (Snowflower and the Secret Fan). 

This novel was an unexpected pleasure because it hosted two aspects I adore about Asian culture: the supernatural in everyday life and the immigration experience. An egocentric art-dealer-turned-murder-victim-then-ghost tells the story of a group of travelers who head to China and disappear. 

Throughout the narrative, our guide shows us aspects of her personal story with characteristic eccentricity. When a newspaper reports her murder, she complains about the article and pictures used to display her body. Afterwards, our protagonist’s description of her own funeral and its attendees offered a humorous look into the art world and the personalities that inhabit it. 

Saving Fish From Drowning also fed this writer’s appetite for psychological insights through internal dialogue and flashbacks. Ms. Tan’s use of graphic detail in describing the protagonist’s murder, for example, is done with a coroner’s eye and a feminine touch.

In the future, I highly recommend Ms. Tan keep writing novels of this nature. Not only are they entertaining, but their aftertaste of the supernatural mixed with the everyday are enough to bring even a finicky reader back to the literary table.

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12 Responses to “Book Review: Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan”

  1. Eve says:

    I've read many of Tan's previous novels. This one I've never been able to start because the beginning seems too…infodumpy? But maybe I was arong. I'll give it another shot if I ever come across it again.

  2. Janet Johnson says:

    Amy Tan is a pretty amazing author. I hadn't heard of this one. Sounds intriguing!

  3. Rachna Chhabria says:

    Amy Tan is a wonderful writer. I have read her novel 'The Bonesetter's Daughter' and loved it.

  4. Lynda Young says:

    This book intrigues me. I like the POV. Looks like I will have to add it to my TBR list.

  5. Victoria Dixon says:

    I haven't read this one or the Bonesetter's Daughter yet, so I was grateful to Stephanie for this review. I think my favorite Tan novel is "One Hundred Secret Senses." It has the same pseudo-fantastical element Stephanie mentions in this book and enough of a twist at the end that I was pleasantly surprised. It's definitely on my TBR list now. ;D Thanks everyone for commenting!

  6. Jemi Fraser says:

    I actually haven't read any of her books yet – although I always think they sound intriguing. Gotta fix that! 🙂

  7. Barbara Ann Wright says:

    I've only ever read The Joy Luck Club, but I did enjoy it. I'll have to add her other books to my backlist. Arrrgghhh! The backlist grows!

  8. Natalie Aguirre says:

    Thanks for the great review. I love Amy Tan and will have to check this out.

  9. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Natalie!

  10. Vicky says:

    I think I've read all of hers. I love the gritty way she digs into family jealousies and how the past shapes the present. Thanks for this review!

  11. Medeia Sharif says:

    I read Tan's first two novels way back in high school. I'd love to revisit her writing again.

  12. Victoria Dixon says:

    Yes, Barbara. I swear my list never shortens half as much as it grows. LOL

    Wow, Vicky. You're ahead of me! I've read most of hers, but I know I've fallen behind over the past three or four years. Sigh.

    Thanks for stopping by, Medeia!

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