At first glance, The Dragon Behind the Glass by Emily Voigt seems like it will be a true crime style book about a highly coveted, ornamental trophy fish. The Asian arowana, or the “dragon fish”, is a modern phenomenon in the world of aquarium enthusiasts, prized for its rarity and dazzling colors (red, gold, and green). Baby Asian arowana sell for a few thousand dollars, while prime adult specimens can sell for upwards of $150,000. On the surface, Voigt presents the history and current events surrounding this fish, focusing on those that depict the obsession arowana lovers as well as the miasma of half-truths and danger that surrounds the Asian arowana. Stories of fish farmers or sellers being robbed at gunpoint multiple times or of judges at expos refusing to be responsible for arowana judging for fear of their safety/life are the norm. But, woven throughout these fantastical tales is an important discussion about our effect on the environment and animals — how much are we to blame and what is the best course of action to correct these wrong-doings?
A book-happy PhD candidate who studies genetics and cancer risk. If I'm not reading or working in the lab, I'm volunteering as a Head Copy Editor for the Journal of Emerging Investigators.