Written by the award-winning Korean poet Ahn Do-hyun, The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher has been described by many as a modern day fable. On the surface, its storyline appears simple and child-like, however a deeper reading reveals a plethora of messages on what it means to live and love in this world.
The narrator of the story, Silver Salmon, is sensitive, analytical and restless, and consequently he struggles to accept the somewhat predictable life that his species are fated to lead. As the title suggests, Silver Salmon strives to leap higher than is expected of him; he wants to challenge and change his prospects. As well as being different on the inside, we learn at the start of the book that he has also always stood out due to his unusual silver appearance; as a result of this, he encourages others to look beyond his looks and “inside his heart”. It makes sense that the one salmon that is able to do this is named Clear-Eyed Salmon, for she is not blinded by the physical appearance of those around her.
Part of Silver Salmon’s journey to self-discovery is to find a deeper meaning in his relationship with his surroundings. Throughout the book, nature is personified, allowing both Silver Salmon and a reader to think twice about the world in which we live. The book aims to discover an affinity between humans, animals and the environment, which has hitherto been lost. In doing so profound conclusions are made, for example: “Understanding the beauty and laws of nature was only possible when you saw yourself as an inextricable part of nature as a whole”.
Despite the fact that The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher has been translated into English, the language throughout is beautiful and poignant. It manages to bring the complex yet imaginative world in which Silver Salmon and Clear Eyed Salmon live sharply into focus.
“More stars, perhaps, than there were drops of water in the ocean, each boasting its own unique light, were strung together to form the Milky Way, a pale splash against the black”.