December Book Review0
Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan; 4 stars (out of 5); read in December 2015
I had forgotten how much I like Amy Tan’s writing, and I definitely didn’t remember her being so funny. Still, this takes a serious look at the manipulation of the media and of how well-intentioned people can so easily do more harm than good. (And also how Americans so often step on other people’s toes, or worse, but that’s more incidental.) It’s a really interesting question about how to help and what constitutes help, especially when there is such a cultural divide that there is no real understanding between the groups of people. She starts with a quote from Camus (“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”) and pretty much takes off running from there, with engaging side plots and a great cast of characters. And I love what she says in the back of my edition in an interview: “…I am interested in intentional meaning. That is the reason for the title, Saving Fish from Drowning. One can argue that one is not killing fish but taking them out of the water to save them from drowning. Within what we say is what we mean, what we don’t intend, what we want people to think we mean…and all the chaos that results is the source of a lot of stories.”
I really, really like what she’s done here, and she’s done it in a way that also tells a great story along the way, with humor and some memorable characters.