This is one hell of a debut novel. Smart, brutal, and intense with the pacing of a classic noir, yet it also manages to reveal human truths and insights into the heart with unexpected flashes of tenderness. In the end, none of the characters come out winners, but the reader sure does.— Cody
This is one hell of a debut novel. Smart, brutal, and intense with the pacing of a classic noir, yet it also manages to reveal human truths and insights into the heart with unexpected flashes of tenderness. In the end, none of the characters come out winners, but the reader sure does.— From Cody's 2016 and older picks
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.
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
Heartbreaking and haunting.
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
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
[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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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