The Magic Fish
By Trung Le Nguyen
The Magic Fish is the debut work by Trung Le Nguyen. This beautifully illustrated graphic novel blends three intertwining narratives into a warm embrace. Using color, Nguyen weaves past, present, and fantasy together to tell the story of Tien, a second-generation Vietnamese American teenager growing up in the 90’s. Tien goes to school, hangs out with his friends, and when he is home his family will read fairytales aloud to practice their English. Tien wants to come out to his parents but cannot find a Vietnamese word to express his sexuality and the timing never seems to be right. The stories they are reading reflect many of the themes addressed in this book (belonging, loss, love, sexuality, etc.) and give Tien and especially his mother a way to communicate when the right words couldn’t be found.