The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam

Ann Marie Fleming

January 1, 2008

Ann Marie Fleming's graphic novel, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, is a whirlwind, magical mystery tale of origin-searching. The novel, an adaptation of Fleming's documentary film, tracks her search through five continents to uncover the occult details of her once famous greatgrandfather, Long Tack Sam. Fleming's great-grandfather was, at the turn of the last century, the most celebrated Chinese acrobat and magician on the vaudeville circuit, rubbing elbows with the European aristocracy and winning the hearts of American theatergoers. Yet by the time Fleming herself was born, his legacy was all but forgotten, and his name was rarely uttered among her family members. As part Chinese, Australian, Austrian and Canadian, Fleming is driven both by the question of how Long Tack Sam's itinerant life determined the international scope of her origins, and why he has now been collectively forgotten by the world at large. Fleming expertly documents her investigation with film stills, original photographs, drawings, newspaper clippings and playbills-a hybrid form that reflects her own hybrid origins. The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam deftly addresses what it means to be a citizen of the world by honoring a great-grandfather's cosmopolitan legacy.

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