Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

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9780374119744: Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

A Vietnamese Bicycle Days by a stunning new voice in American letters.

Andrew X. Pham dreamed of becoming a writer. Born in Vietnam and raised in California, he held technical jobs at United Airlines-and always carried a letter of resignation in his briefcase. His father had been a POW of the Vietcong; his family came to America as "boat people." His sister committed suicide, prompting Andrew to quit his job. He sold all of his possessions and embarked on a year-long bicycle journey that took him through the Mexican desert, where he was treated as a bueno hermano, a "good brother"; around a thousand-mile loop from Narita to Kyoto in Japan; and, after five months and 2,357 miles, to Saigon, where he finds "nothing familiar in the bombed-out darkness." In Mexico he's treated kindly as a Vietnamito, though he shouts, "I'm American, Vietnamese American!" In Vietnam, he's taken for Japanese or Korean by his countrymen, except, of course, by his relatives, who doubt that as a Vietnamese he has the stamina to complete his journey ("Only Westerners can do it"); and in the United States he's considered anything but American. A vibrant, picaresque memoir written with narrative flair and a wonderful, eye-opening sense of adventure, Catfish and Mandala is an unforgettable search for cultural identity.

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Review:

A great memoirist can burnish even an ordinary childhood into something bright--see, for instance, Annie Dillard's An American Childhood. So what about a really good writer with access to a dramatic and little-documented story? This is the case with Catfish and Mandala, Vietnamese American Andrew X. Pham's captivating first book, which 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 through Mexico, the American West Coast, Japan, and finally his far-off first land, Vietnam.

The story, with some of a mandala's repeated symbolic motifs, works on several levels at once. It is an exploration into the meaning of home, a descriptive travelogue, and an intimate look at the Vietnamese immigrant experience. There are beautifully illuminated flashbacks to the experience of fleeing Vietnam and to an earlier, more innocent childhood. While Pham's stern father, a survivor of Vietcong death camps, regrets that Pham has not been a respectful Vietnamese son, he also reveals that he wishes he himself had been more "American" for his kids, that he had "taken [them] camping." 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

About the Author:

Andrew X. Pham was born in Vietnam in 1967 and moved to California with his family after the war. He lives in San Jose, California. This is his first book.

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Pham, Andrew X.
Editorial: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN 10: 0374119740 ISBN 13: 9780374119744
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Andrew X. Pham
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Descripción Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0374119740

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Pham, Andrew X.
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Descripción Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, New York, NY, U.S.A., 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: New. First Edition. New book, unmarked and unread. 2 copies available. Nº de ref. de la librería 48065

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Descripción Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110374119740

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Pham, Andrew X.
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Descripción Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Brand New!. Nº de ref. de la librería VIB0374119740

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Descripción Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. 0374119740 New Condition *** Right Off the Shelf | Ships within 2 Business Days ~~~ Customer Service Is Our Top Priority! - Thank you for LOOKING :-). Nº de ref. de la librería 2BOOK2P204097

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Andrew X. Pham
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Descripción Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: New. 1st Edition.... New York: Farrar Straus Giroux (1999). First edition, first printing. Hardbound. New in dust jacket. A tight, clean copy, unread, without flaws, never opened. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. 0.0. Signed by Author(s). Nº de ref. de la librería ws46

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ANDREW X PHAM
Editorial: Farrar, Straus And Giroux, New York (1999)
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Descripción Farrar, Straus And Giroux, New York, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: new. Stated First edition/first printing. ISBN:0374119740. [4to] 344p. New in dj protected against wear and tear in Brodart Archival Mylar. Nº de ref. de la librería `107691

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