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A great memoirist can burnish even an ordinary childhood into something bright.... Catfish and Mandala... Andrew X. Pham's captivating first book... delves fearlessly into questions of home, family, and identity. The son of Vietnamese parents who suffered terribly during the Vietnam War and brought their family to America when he was 10, Pham, on the cusp of his 30s, defied his parents' conservative hopes for him and his engineering career by becoming a poorly paid freelance writer. After the suicide of his sister, he set off on an even riskier path to travel some of the world on his bicycle. In the grueling, enlightening year that followed, he pedaled [to]... Vietnam…. Catfish and Mandala is a book of double-edged truths, and it would make a fascinating study even in less able hands. In those of the adventurous, unsentimental Pham, it is an irresistible story. --Maria Dolan



Pham recounts the story of his once wealthy father, Thong Van Pham, who lived through the French [colonial period], the Japanese invasion during WWII, and the Vietnam War. Alternating between his father's distant past and more recent events, the narrative take readers on a haunting trip through time and space. This technique lends a soothing, dreamlike quality to a story of upheaval, war, famine and the brutality his father underwent following a childhood of privilege... Pham does an admirable job of recounting the complex cast of characters and the political machinations... In the end, he also gracefully delivers a heartfelt family history. --Publisher Weekly, starred review



Brutally honest and rich in detail, this posthumously published diary of a twenty-seven-year-old Vietcong woman doctor, saved from destruction by an American soldier, gives us fresh insight into the lives of those fighting on the other side of the Vietnam War. It is a story of the struggle for one’s ideals amid the despair and grief of war, but most of all, it is a story of hope in the most dire circumstances. This English version, faithfully translated by Andrew Pham and his father Thong Pham with the assistance of the Dr. Dang Thuy Tram’s family, has been translated into multiple languages.

Book no.1
Book no.2
Book no.3
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