Saving Fish from Drowning

By Amy Tan. Published in 2006.

I adore the title of Amy Tan’s latest book. Her titles are usually more descriptive — The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Bonesetter’s Daughter — but Saving Fish from Drowning is a conceptual title, darkly funny and delicately hinting at one of the main themes of the novel.

Saving Fish from Drowning is about a group of American tourists who disappear while on vacation in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Narrating the story is Bibi Chen, the woman who organized the trip but who died under mysterious circumstances shortly before their departure. Bibi follows the group as a unseen spirit and relates not only what happens and what people say but also what people think and feel. Tan’s use of Bibi is brilliant; it allows her to employ an omniscient narrator while still telling the story — and commenting on it — from a single person’s distinct perspective.