Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham
A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

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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.


About Andrew X. Pham

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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.
Published April 1, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 353 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Travel, War, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A brilliantly written memoir in which a young Vietnamese-American uses a bicycle journey in his homeland as a vehicle to tell his eventful life story.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wh...

The Guardian

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All my life, I've looked at you sideways, won-dering if you were wondering if my brothers had killed your brothers in the war that made no sense except for the one act of sowing me here - my gain - in your bed, this strange rich-poor, generous-cruel land.

Nov 29 2000 | Read Full Review of Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wh...

Publishers Weekly

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In narrating his search for his roots, Vietnamese-American and first-time author Pham alternates between two story lines.

| Read Full Review of Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wh...

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