Please disable your adblock and script blockers to view this page

'The Magic Fish' author Trung Le Nguyen discusses the heroism of fairy tales: 'It's a fantasy of growth'

Random House Graphic
Tiến and Hiền

Trung Le Nguyen
Hans Christian Anderson's



No matching tags

the United States

No matching tags

Positivity     50.00%   
   Negativity   50.00%
The New York Times
Write a review: Entertainment Weekly

But The Magic Fish, the debut graphic novel from writer/artist Trung Le Nguyen out this week from Random House Graphic, focuses on a different kind of valor: The everyday heroism of family members trying their best to care for and understand each other across cultural differences.The protagonist of The Magic Fish is Tiến, a young Vietnamese-American boy who is just coming to terms with his homosexuality and struggling to figure out how to communicate the truth about himself to his immigrant parents who don't speak much English. Whenever water shows up, there's always a little bit of angst, like 'here's this big, beautiful, deep thing that also happens to be this incredible barrier between us.' The ocean always seems to pop up in my stories whenever there is this sense of longing and missing someone and feeling like you're missing a part of a person, even though they're right in front of you.You sometimes hear this pervasive belief, especially from the entertainment industry, that boys only like stories with male characters because that's all they can relate to, and by extension, girls only like stories with princesses or female characters. I think that in terms of creating a story that's really relatable, a lot of younger readers are kind of out of place in their lives. Both the literal linguistic barriers and the larger cultural translations that make these fairy tales legible both to Tiến and his mother?The thing that I really wanted to explore specifically with the language barriers is the notion of parents and children who are trying really hard, but they just don't know what they don't know. I think it's important to have those stories out there.The specific way that I wanted to tell my story was kind of based off of my parents who really did their best, but we don't have enough of a common language to discuss the nuances of queerness and the language to discuss queerness is evolving every day, all the time. If they can change the story from Hans Christian Anderson's story to suit the needs of whatever it is that they feel beholden to, then why can't we also tell the story a different way?Then, I did a little bit more digging on the story and it's actually quite old.

As said here by