THE A5 BOOK REVIEW
Catfish & Mandala is a captivating story of a Vietnamese-American’s return to Vietnam, a year-long voyage traveling solo via bicycle from San Francisco through Japan across to his homeland. Andrew X. Pham was born in Vietnam and moved to California as a young child when his family escaped after the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. The story is both a funny and deeply powerful inspection of the meaning of self and of home for someone caught between cultures. This travelogue explores both the impact of war on his family, including his father's experience as a POW of the Vietcong and their tough integration into the United States, and the impact of war on Vietnam. The writing is beautiful, and the descriptions of his struggles and triumphs with the journey are very explicit and meaningful. The New York Times describes the book, the winner of the 1999 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, as a trip "so necessary and noble to make others seem like mere jaunts".
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ABOUT ANDREW X. PHAM
Andrew X. Pham describes himself as a writer, farmer, engineer and as the founder of Spoonwiz, a network of independent culinary writers, critics and food professionals. He has written a cookbook on Southern Asian food and two books about his father's life in Vietnam, including the highly rated The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars.
GREAT QUOTES FROM CATFISH AND MANDALA
“Too many things have changed. Too much time has passed. I'm different now, a man with a pocketful of unconnected but terribly vivid memories. I was looking to dredge up what I'd long forgotten. Most of all, I am wishing for something to fasten all these gems, maybe something to hold them in a continuity that I can comprehend.”