Wednesday, August 02, 2006

73. "Saving Fish From Drowning" ~ Amy Tan

Not since Susie Salmon from The Lovely Bones has there been such an endearing narrator - dead narrator, that is.

Bibi Chen died of unknown circumstances just before she was to lead a group of 11 friends to Burma on an art exploration. Her tales from the other side, one that Bibi compares to the Buddhist 42 day rest period before reincarnation, show a snarky yet intelligent soul. During her funeral, Bibi is frustrated to find that her friends decide to go on with the trip without her.

This decision imitates a fateful true-life adventure: several Americans have disappeared in Burma (now known as Myanmar). Tan takes detailed research and entwines it with Bibi's story.

Unlike many of Tan's former books, this isn't mother-daughter politics. However, she delves into Asian issues, as well as Americans and the views they carry with them as they travel.

Even with multiple characters to follow, it's easy to categorize them ("we are a geek, a drama queen," etc.) and appreciate the little foibles that make them real.

4.5 out of 5.0 Black Windowless Vans.

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