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Fishing for Tigers

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  326 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Six years ago, Mischa Reese left her abusive husband and suffocating life in California and reinvented herself in steamy, chaotic Hanoi. In Vietnam, she finds satisfying work and enjoys a life of relative luxury and personal freedom. Thirty-five and single, Mischa believes that romance and passion are for teenagers; a view with which her cynical, promiscuous expat friends ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Picador Australia (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  326 ratings  ·  59 reviews


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TheSmellOfPaper
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to hear Emily Maguire speak earlier this year, and it was her obvious passion for this book, rather than the premise itself, that persuaded me to read it. I also love the title! But once I started reading, things that might have put me off - my idea of a blissful holiday is being on a wild empty beach with no one around, preferably in winter, not navigating the bustling, humid streets of an Asian city - drew me in. I'm not sure I went into this book with an open mind, but I ce ...more
Heidi
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Mischa, a middle-aged woman damaged by the legacy of an abusive marriage, has fled to Vietnam six years ago to escape her past and find a sense of identity and belonging. She spends her time working for an English language magazine and socialising with her expat friends, enjoying a life free of responsibilities. But despite loving life in Hanoi, Mischa has never been able to truly belong or find love again. When her friend Matthew’s eighteen-year-old son Cal, who is half Vietnamese, arrives for ...more
Amber Cernovs
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Emily Maguire deserves a standing ovation for her ability to capture the soul of Hanoi and the world view of her nest of characters. For me, Hanoi was love at first sight and over the years of living there my fascination and adoration for that city only got stronger. Where I have struggled to explain to family and friends how you can actually love a place and that sometimes I miss it so much it actually hurts, Emily has truly been able to convey that sense of wonder and attachment in this book. ...more
Bree T
Six years ago Mischa fled an abusive husband, leaving California for her family in Sydney and then on to Hanoi, Vietnam. She moved there with no job lined up, no real plan for what she wanted to do but things fell into place for her – she met an Australian ex-pat and became part of a tight-knit group and got a job editing translated pieces to make them more cohesive and natural sounding.

She loves Hanoi, with its vibrant, dirty, crowded streets and steamy heat. She’s happily single, having dated
...more
Michael Livingston
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Emily Maguire has a knack for storytelling - both this and her previous novel Smoke in the Room have premises that didn't immediately attract me and yet I read both in breathless binges, unable to stop. Fishing for Tigers real strength is its sense of place. Maguire creates a breathless and believable Hanoi, transporting me from Melbourne's grey winter to the humid, crowded streets of Vietnam. The characters are strong as well, with flaws that make them seem like real people, while leaving them ...more
Hayley Crandell
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I finished this last night and not really sure what to say. Yes, the descriptions of Vietnam are extremely evocative (I haven't been there, but the writing is so sensuous and descriptive that I feel like I have the 'feel' of the place), but really this book is about the characters. Mischa is a very 'real' protagonist, with faults and sometimes poor decision-making skills that make her less hero, but much more human. A true literary accomplishment. ...more
Anne Treasure
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book - I read it over one rainy, freezing weekend in winter, and despite sitting under layers of blankets I felt like I had been transported to steamy Vietnam. Maguire is a writer of infinite skill, and the authenticity of her prose is both jarring and transcendant. Her books make me feel uncomfortable and intrigued at once, and this is her best yet.
Sonia
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
This was originally posted at my blog http://ifnotread.wordpress.com.

There was a time when all I read was non-fiction, there was the time when I only read plays. Then there was the time when I never read contemporary fiction. I’m not so extreme in my reading behaviour any more but I’d thought I’d elaborate on my anti-contemporary fiction phase – I didn’t read what fell into this category because I thought most of it would be rubbish and so I didn’t want to waste my time (you know, the old adage
...more
Rhoda
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Firstly I would like to thank Hayley for the opportunity to read and review this book, as I won it on First Reads.

What I absolutely loved about this book were all the wonderful, colourful descriptions of Vietnam. The author's words just brought Vietnam to life completely. I haven't been there, but feel that I have had a real taste of it through this book. The author has really captured the noise, the tastes, the people, the culture and the seasons beautifully. It was all so descriptive and capti
...more
Jessica
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-read
I've never really thought about going to Vietnam but Fishing For Tigers has certainly changed my mind. It is a very easy, smooth read that touches on hard chringeworthy subjects without making them seem small and insignificant. I have to say I was not a fan of Cal, not because of the relationship or the age difference, I just found him to be very arrogant and also sometimes mean. I don't know if this was just because he is young and feels vulnerable and insecure but I didn't like it. Mischa I fo ...more
Lizzy Chandler
Fishing for Tigers is about lust and betrayal, belonging and the meaning of home and family. It’s about expats living in Vietnam, of dislocation and clashing cultures. It’s about trauma and abuse creating the conditions for more trauma and abuse. It’s also, obliquely, about war and its place in history, how it changes lives and nations. Finally, it’s about the stories we tell ourselves, and allow to be told about us.

Emotionally, I found it disturbing, the depiction of the older women/younger m
...more
Ann Tonks
May 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: vietnam, love-story
I wanted to enjoy this much more than I did.

I agree with many of the other reviewers that the descriptions of Vietnam are rich and vibrant but unfortunately, the characters aren't. Even her heroine Mischa and her young lover don't move off the page. What is the attraction to her of Vietnam? Why does she see in the people she mixes with? Where is the connection with the Vietnamese.

Some else has described it as a brave attempt and given it 5 stars. I would say the same, but an attempt that just do
...more
Holly Quin
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I seriously loved this book. I binge read it in one day and now I'm feeling sad it's over. It transported me back to Hanoi and left me yearning for more. The way the author deals with nuanced issues like gender and race and sexuality and colonialism and ex-pat-ism was really refreshing. I did find the sex scenes a little awkward and forced but overall the book was incredible. ...more
Theresa
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. It was quite good, in a read-in-one-day sort of way. The expats (maybe more aptly called migrants) often made me cringe, which I guess was the point. The two main characters had more depth and backstories that kept me interested.
Robin Riedstra
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Fishing for Tigers" is a beautifully written book. She captures the cloy atmosphere beautifully, which becomes a metaphor for the main character's state of being. I don't want to give away spoilers but it is fantastically written with beautiful dialogue. ...more
Andrea
What sets this novel apart is the peppering of Vietnamese folklore tales throughout.
Joe Stamber
Mar 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Australian Mischa escapes an abusive marriage by fleeing to Hanoi. Here she joins a bunch of misfit expats and learns to call Vietnam home. Things change when the eighteen-year-old son of one of her gang turns up to visit. Told entirely in first person by Mischa, Fishing for Tigers explores a multitude of themes whilst all the time reminding the reader of Vietnamese life and culture. Emily Maguire is a writer who is easy to read and doesn't pull any punches. Although I didn't enjoy it as much as ...more
Jill
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I inhaled this in two sittings. Atmospheric tale of an expatriate woman losing herself in Hanoi and then being forced to find herself through an affair with a much younger man, which by the sexual standards of the other foreigners in town should hardly raise an eyebrow. I gather that the author only spent a relatively short time in Vietnam, unlike her protagonist, but her description of alcohol-soaked, existentially unmoored and morally skew-whiff expats rings very true. The evocation of Hanoi i ...more
Simon Bate
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Mischa is working in Vietnam and mixing with the expats in Hanoi.She is not particularly beautiful and is damaged from the her abusive marriage. A friend's eighteen year old mixed race son(Viet/Strayan)comes to visit his father and finds Mischa inexplicably attractive.They start an affair.Cal is also an unbelievably mature youth.There are problems.Who'd a guessed!
An easy read made more fun for me because I recognised so many of the locations in Hanoi and Saigon.In fact my avatar photo was taken
...more
Linda
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Having been to Hanoi and other parts of Vietnam, a lot of it resonated with me, the descriptions, the social commentary. I thought it was very well written. The only thing that didn't feel quite right at times was the extremes of Cal's personality; he was mostly portrayed as very mature with his outlook on the world and Vietnam in particular (do 18 year old "boys" really speak like that?) and then swinging completely the other way to be a spoilt immature brat. Not a f ...more
Lyn Haines
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
'One thing they agreed on was that I needed to find myself. My intention was the opposite. I wanted to lose myself so thoroughly that I would never find my way back.' pg 1

Enigmatic, beautiful, intense, erotic, contemporary, realistic, thought provoking ... hard threads to with which to weave by anyone's standards, but Emily Maguire masterfully delivers.

Find a quiet spot on a hot day, with a cold bottle of wine, to really appreciate this multicoloured tale.

Highly recommend.
...more
Anne
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very captivating read. I've been to Vietnam and had many bad experiences there so I actually felt the opposite of Mischa in that I love Sydney but don't feel anything for Vietnam, but the descriptions did make me feel like I was back there. Overall it is a well written story and I enjoyed the humour in amongst all the angst. ...more
Giulia Mastrantoni
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Slow. Vietnamese culture is great, but the story doesn't have much to offer. I guess I just don't like Maguire's style (I read "An Isolated Incident" and hated it). Oh well, lots of other authors I can read. ...more
Suzy
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of life in Hanoi, but found many of the characters and their motivations unconvincing.
Ellie Thomas
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyed revisiting Hanoi and Hi Chi Min City but found the story line lacked depth.
Ellie
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Emily Maguire’s “Fishing for Tigers” is perfect escapism; a holiday to the other side of the world without leaving your house.
Mischa Reese is a 35-years-old woman who is currently living in Hanoi, Vietnam, and has been for the last 6 years after escaping from her abusive husband. She left her family in Australia to try and rebuild her life, or avoid it all together. Her life is reasonably uneventful, revolving around working as a translator, or to be more exact, proof- reading translations from
...more
Nerissa
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was interested to read this book as I was traveling to Hanoi. This novel explores the life of an expat. Is it's attraction cheap domestic labour, 'servile' women or the experience of another culture. How do you experience a culture without learning the language? Is living overseas a way of avoiding responsibility? And can we really escape the clasp of family.

Do you buy the overpriced postcards?

The second character has more complicated issues, his father is an Australian expat living in Hanoi,
...more
Vicky
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
It is a sad book.The story is about an international community in Vietnam, a mixture of people who made this country a temporary home. The idea of a drifting generation, of people who are unfulfilled and need to escape to another culture to feel that they have a life is really disturbing. These people are not as an old days explorers or lover of new languages and lands, they don't integrate, they create their little suffocating world and they exploit the same country that gives them an escape. A ...more
Jacqui
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Another great one by Emily Maguire. I never thought of traveling to Vietnam before but in a little over 300 pages Maguire has managed to convince me it is a place of wonder and experience, of pain and hardship. But mostly, Vietnam is a place to both lose and find yourself. The only reason this book did not receive 5 stars was the ending, which I found a little rushed and sudden, but ultimately unexpected. Highly recommended to travel enthusiasts, freedom lovers and those looking for a richly cul ...more
Kath
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I'd read a review of this in The Big Issue and thought it sounded interesting. I enjoyed the book - especially the themes about what "home" means, and the different places it can become. It was a quick read. I haven't been to Vietnam but thought the descriptions were good. I've lived and worked overseas so was interested to read about the expat experience in this book - their experiences were largely different to mine (in other parts of Asia) but some of the places they hung out sounded similar. ...more
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