Andrew X. Pham was born in Phan Thiet, “a town renowned for its fish sauce,” in 1967. Andrew's father Thong Van Pham worked as a school teacher while his mother worked from home where she did laundry for her neighbors to help out. During the war, Andrew's dad worked for the Nationalist army until he was captured by the Vietcong and imprisoned in the Minh Luong Prison reeducation camp for several months. After his father’s release from prison, the family left Vietnam in 1977 by boat, eventually reaching the shores of Malaysia where they spent many months in a refugee camp, awaiting to be sponsored by a Western country.
The Pham family was able to relocate first to Shreveport, Louisiana with the support of The First Baptist Church, before moving to California nine months later. Andrew would graduate from UCLA with a degree in aerospace engineering in 1990, before pursuing an M.B.A. and and M.S. in Engineering. A drastic career change would bring Andrew to start writing professionally first as a technically writerand food critic before drafting his first book, Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through Vietnam. A memoir-travelogue that narrates his bicycle journey through the Western United States, Japan and Vietnam, Catfish received much critical attentionupon its publication in 1999, immediately winning the Kiriyama Pacific Book Prize.
Since Catfish, Andrew X. Pham has published The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars(2009), which recounts his father's life story narrated from his perspective and became the fruit of long months of productive collaboration. Andrew has also translated the diary of Dr. Dang Thuy Tram, published in 2008 under the title Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.Last but not least, Andrew has recently self-published two more texts: A Theory of Flight: Recollections (2012), which consists in a collection of essays about life and travel that are close to the author's heart, as well as A Culinary Odyssey: My Cookbook Diary of Travels, Flavors, and Memories of Southeast Asia(2012), both of which are available for purchase in ebook digital format on sites such as amazon.com.
While Andrew Pham is at work on the third book of his Vietnam trilogy, tentatively titled The Japanese Officer: An Indochine Love Story, based on his grandmother's life as he reveals on hiswebsite, he is also very invested in a lifelong project spoonwiz.com of which he is the founder.
Spoonwiz.com is an internet start up that functions as a culinary resource to connect users with food experts and great restaurants. It seeks todefine, highlight and share the dining experience and "all things culinary" while remaining invested in "complete transparency, fairness, integrity, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility" (see the company's site for a complete description of the its mission statement, vision and scope). As we understand it, Spoonwiz is a company "founded by writers for writers," which consists of "an network of independent critics, journalists, food writers, bloggers and culinary professionals" who share an appreciation of great food and are invested in sharing such appreciationand the dining experience.
Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam3.94 · Rating details · 4,455 Ratings · 490 Reviews
Catfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey—a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam—made by a young Vietnamese-American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland.
Andrew X. Pham was born in Vietnam and raised in California. His father had been a POW of the Vietcong; his family came to America as "boat people." FolloCatfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey—a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam—made by a young Vietnamese-American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland.
Andrew X. Pham was born in Vietnam and raised in California. His father had been a POW of the Vietcong; his family came to America as "boat people." Following the suicide of his sister, Pham quit his job, sold all of his possessions, and embarked on a year-long bicycle journey that took him through the Mexican desert, 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 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 an eye-opening sense of adventure, Catfish and Mandala is an unforgettable search for cultural identity....more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 2nd 2000 by Picador (first published 1999)