Book number 43 for the year – ‘The Magic Fish’ by Trung Le Nyugen, a beautiful graphic novel about a young boy Tien who loves reading fairy tales with his mom. It’s not just a way for the two of them to bond, but also a way to practice English language.
Tien’s parents are Vietnamese immigrants, who came to the U.S as a young couple, and only very recently managed to attain American citizenship. While Tien’s mother is struggling to make peace with her past in Vietnam, her son has his own personal battles to fight.
I love how the author Nyugen blends themes of both sexual and immigrant identity in the story. Fantasy and real-life seamlessly spread over the pages, so along with Tien’s tale, the reader also gets beautifully drawn folklore stories with new twists. There is a grim version of Cinderella and a more inclusive variant of the ‘Little Mermaid’ that a lot of people would adore.
The art is absolutely stunning in this book, giving a certain surrealism to the panels. Despite the panels being monochromatic, one doesn’t feel the need of them having more color. There is enough life and vibrancy in the story to not need more literal shades. Tien has some of the most supportive friends you’d find in fiction books and an equally accepting family. It’s a heart-warming book that you would want to finish in one go.
For those looking for reading something for ‘Asian Heritage Month’, pick this one.
‘The Magic Fish’ is a 5/5 from me.
Please check out our podcast on YouTube by the same name – Abstract AF
Listen to episode 30 for some fun song recommendations. And do subscribe.