Review: “The Magic Fish” by Trung Le Nguyen

I do not remember exactly when I read The Magic Fish but I have reviewed it for the Paper Lanterns literary journal in March, 2021.

The Magic Fish is, among other things, a great tribute to storytelling and its ability to bring people together. Tiến is a son of Vietnamese immigrants who are struggling to learn English. Due to the language barrier, he cannot find the right words to share his secret with them. As they navigate their new lives, will fairy tales be enough to bring them together?

This graphic novel is a powerful story in itself, exploring a variety of complex life issues that many people will be able to relate to. Tiến is an adorable character, motivated to find his own identity, even in the face of hardship. His life is a mixture of struggle and joy and the entire novel is a blend of the past, future, and fantasy, cleverly differentiated with the use of colour. The fairy tales explored in the narrative are oldtime classics we all know and love with an added new spin, highlighting different but important lessons. The author connects the fairy-tales and Tiến’s story well, creating an enjoyable flow to the novel.

However, towards the second half, certain storyline aspects appeared to have happened out of nowhere, in one or two instances.

Despite that small issue, every page of The Magic Fish was a welcomed surprise. It is done tactfully and with great care, with a powerful storyline and characters, making for a lovely combination. This novel should serve as a reminder that we are the authors of our own stories.

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