Dragonfish: A Novel (Paperback)

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Dragonfish: A Novel By Vu Tran Cover Image
By Vu Tran
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Staff Reviews

Robert's ex-wife Suzy left him abruptly two years ago. He doesn't know why, or why they married at all, only that he misses her like a lost tooth. When she goes missing and her new husband blackmails him into searching for her, Robert thinks he might finally get some answers. The path of his investigation, signposted with uneasy allies and glittering Vegas casinos, reveals that their shared past is thick with ghosts and roars with the echo of the Vietnam War. Dragonfish matches any of the best in the ranks of noir novels, and it's a spellbinding meditation on migration, loss, and love.

— From Christina


A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

"Note-perfect. Heartbreaking. Profound…[A] polished dagger of a novel that will cut out your heart." —Charles Bock, New York Times best-selling author of Beautiful Children

Robert, an Oakland cop, still can’t let go of Suzy, the mysterious Vietnamese wife who left him. Now she’s disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent smuggler who blackmails Robert into finding her. Searching for Suzy in the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, Robert finds himself also chasing the past that haunts her—one that extends back to Vietnam and a refugee camp in Malaysia, and forward to Suzy’s estranged daughter, a poker shark now taking the future into her own hands.

About the Author

Vu Tran was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and raised in Oklahoma. He is the winner of a Whiting Award, and his short stories have appeared in many publications, including The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Mystery Stories. He teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago.

Praise For…

Well-handled and tautly told…[A] strong first novel for its risk taking, for its collapsing of genre, for its elegant language and its mediation of a history that is integral to post-1960s American identity yet often ignored.
— Chris Abani - New York Times Book Review

Heartbreaking and haunting.
— BuzzFeed

Transfixing…Like such writers as Caryl Phillips, Dinaw Mengestu and Edwidge Danticat, [Tran] is devoted to capturing the immigrant experience and widening everyone’s understanding of its particular as well as universal truths.
— Lloyd Sachs - Chicago Tribune

Splendid…will quickly engage you with its suspenseful story of marital discord, told in duplicate, and set largely in Las Vegas…A dark and gripping story, Dragonfish will keep you reading, out of fear that if you stop, you will never truly surface.

— Anne Morris - Dallas Morning News

[A] hard-hitting debut novel…. [Suzy is] a mystery no one can solve, particularly the people turning all their efforts in the wrong direction. But while their efforts aren’t fruitful, they’re absorbing. And they speak to the way everyone is a bit of an enigma to other people, no matter how many words they put into the effort to be understood.
— NPR Books

Like Gatsby, the characters in Tran’s novel yearn for something unattainable…This and the feeling that there will only be a tragic end are what elevate Dragonfish beyond its bookstore genre.

— Los Angeles Review of Books

A sophisticated mystery anchored in one woman’s quest to make amends with the daughter she abandoned, Dragonfish delicately capsizes our notions of what it means to long for escape from the prisons of our own making.

— Ploughshares

A superb debut novel…that takes the noir basics and infuses them with the bitters of loss and isolation peculiar to the refugee and immigrant tale.
— Maureen Corrigan - NPR's Fresh Air

Everything is perfect there, those quiet little garnishes of idiosyncratic detail are gifts, both amusing and full of character. Tran’s novel is filled with this sort of inspired meticulousness, and reading it is to enter its world.
— Barnes & Noble Review

Absolutely gripping. Vu Tran has written a terrific—and deceptively weird—novel that manages to make Vietnam and Las Vegas feel like old, familiar friends. Don’t call him a writer to watch. Call him a writer to read.
— Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393352870
ISBN-10: 0393352870
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
Pages: 320
Language: English