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Dragonfish: A Novel Audiobook, by Vu Tran Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Vu Tran Narrator: Tom Taylorson, Nancy Wu Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2015 ISBN: 9781504619707
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Robert, an Oakland cop, still can’t let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she’s disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who’s blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, shadowed by Sonny’s sadistic son, “Junior,” and assisted by unexpected and reluctant allies, Robert learns more about his ex-wife than he ever did during their marriage. He finds himself chasing the ghosts of her past, one that reaches back to a refugee camp in Malaysia after the fall of Saigon, as his investigation soon uncovers an elusive packet of her secret letters to someone she left behind long ago. Although Robert starts illuminating the dark corners of Suzy’s life, the legacy of her sins threatens to immolate them all.

Vu Tran has written a thrilling and cinematic work of sophisticated suspense and haunting lyricism, set in motion by characters who can neither trust each other nor trust themselves. This remarkable debut novel is a noir page-turner resonant with the lasting reverberations of lives lost and lives remade a generation ago.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A haunting, beautifully written novel, almost more ghost story than thriller, as Tran explores the world of refugees, immigrants, and the long hold the past and its dead hold on the present.”

    Sara Paretsky, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Is this an immigrant saga disguised as a crime novel? Or a smart thriller that just happens to be set in the Vietnamese immigrant community in Las Vegas? It’s both…[A] novel of uncommon artistry.”

    Tom Perrotta, New York Times bestselling author

  • “On the pure joyous level of great storytelling, Dragonfish is a top-notch mystery…Note perfect. Heartbreaking. Profound. Dragonfish is a polished dagger of a novel.”

    Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author

  • “This is a well-handled and tautly told story…The novel is uncompromising in its confrontations with the dark sides of all of its characters, but Tran treats them with a hard-won dignity and in this way elevates the narrative away from the sentimental. "

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A superb debut novel…that takes the noir basics and infuses them with the bitters of loss and isolation…Vu Tran has given us a haunting literary noir about a newer regeneration of refugees and immigrants who find themselves lost in America.”


  • “Tran’s thriller debut revolves around an elusive woman who seems lost in her own private—and haunted—world…A most enjoyable mystery, from its distinct, dazzling premise all the way to its satisfying conclusion.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This haunting and mesmerizing debut is filled with all the noir elements—a dark and seedy underworld, damsels in distress, tarnished heroes, and a blurring of moral boundaries. It examines such themes as culture, desperation, memory, mental illness, love, loss, and redemption. Highly recommended for mystery fans.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A missing person mystery is delicately entwined with a heartbreaking story of migration and loss…Right off the bat, Tran displays the most admirable and worthwhile gift a serious thriller writer can have: compassion toward even the most disreputable of his characters.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “This riveting debut from Vietnamese-American writer Tran gives readers a vivid look at the violent Vietnamese underworld of Las Vegas smugglers and gamblers.”


  • “Vu Tran takes a strikingly poetic and profoundly evocative approach to the conventions of crime fiction in this supple, sensitive, wrenching, and suspenseful tale of exile, loss, risk, violence, and the failure to love.”


  • “Narrator Tom Taylorson’s deep, sombre voice suits this gritty story…Taylorson switches believably between the American main character and the supporting cast of Vietnamese hit men. His renditions of accented English add to the ambiance of non-native speakers, which is essential to these characters. Through his precise, insistent pace, the listener is drawn into the danger, shifting settings, and multicultural history at the heart of the story.”


  • “Vu Tran’s spellbinding debut novel had me turning pages late into the night. I was drawn in partly by the book’s utterly engrossing plot, partly by its vivid portrayal of a pitiless and dangerous Las Vegas, but mostly by its lovingly interwoven themes of loss, longing, renewal, and cultural memory.”

    Tim O’Brien, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement

  • Dragonfish is a novel about identity, exile, and the chains of memory wrapped in the muscle of a thriller. The suspense kept me turning the pages, but the beautiful writing and aching sense of loss remained with me long after I reached the end.”

    Lisa Brackmann, author of Hour of the Rat

  • “Vu Tran’s Dragonfish is that rare hybrid marvel—a literary thriller, a narrative of migration and loss that upends the conventions of any form. Tran draws the reader into an exquisitely rendered world of violence and heartbreak, loss and love that is impossible to forget.”

    Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

  • “Sometimes it’s creepy, like a really fine noir novel. Other times it’s heartbreaking, as when it dives deep into the anguish of Vietnamese refugees. But either way, Dragonfish is absolutely gripping. Vu Tran has written a terrific novel.”

    Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things

  • An Indie Next List Selection for August 2015
  • A BookPage Top Pick in August 2015 for Thrillers
  • A BookPage Best Book of 2015 for Mysteries & Thrillers
  • A 2015 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • A 2015 Library Journal Best Audiobook
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Audiobook of 2015
  • Finalist for the 2016 Indies Choice Award for Adult Debut

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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. For more information, please go to

About the Narrators

Tom Taylorson is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and Chicago-based actor with over a decade of stage experience. In that time he also built a voice-over career and now primarily works as a voice actor. Tom is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, teaching voice-over for interactive media.

Nancy Wu has narrated audiobooks since 2004, winning three AudioFile Earphones Awards. A New York theater, television, and film actor, she has recorded in studios all over the world—from Italy to Switzerland to Thailand. Her credits include Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Hope & Faith, All My Children, Made for Each Other, and the Oscar-nominated film Frozen River.