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The Magic Fish Review

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In a time in which anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise in the U.S., it is helpful to have media with positive representation of Asian characters, and The Magic Fish fits the bill perfectly. The Magic Fish is a young adult graphic novel by Trung Le Nyun, a gay Vietnamese-American author and illustrator. The protogonist Tiên bonds with his mother, Hiên, over fairy tales, a language that they both share, despite struggling to communicate with it each other in Vietnamese and English; Vietnamese, being his parent’s native language, as refugees. But how can he tell his parents that he is gay when there is no word for it in Vietnamese?

The Magic Fish queers fairy tales with a gender ambigious Cinderella and more. The book also includes Vietnamese Cinderella or Tâm Câm, which is similar to the original story of Cinderella, originating in China. And the illustrations of these fairy tales, and everyday life for Tiên and Hiên are gorgeous, with an anime-like cartooning style. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot, but it is a heartwarming tale, while still including darker topics, like the Vietnamese War. So go check it out!

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