Friday, January 28, 2011

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

Its past midnight, I am lying in my bed and reading Andrew X. Pham's Catfish and Mandala . Outside the window, the Hanoi city is still awake preparing for the Tet new year. Few days ago I picked up this book from my friends Tu's bookshelf and fell in love after reading the first few pages. Andrew X. Pham prose is simply beautiful. Rediscovering my love for Vietnam reading through this book.

Yesterday at the Tet lunch at work, I mentioned this book to Marko and he suggested me to read Andrew X. Pham next book The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars as well.

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

About the book

Winner of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Winner of the Whiting Writers' Award
A Seattle Post-Intelligencer Best Book of the Year

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." 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.

Search for Andrew X. Pham


  1. Arky I really like Pham's writing. I wish he were a little more prolific, though! It was a long wait between Catfish and Leaves.


  2. I can't think of any other authors (except Khaled Hosseini) who's second book is better than the first one. Wish more authors are not as prolific as they are.


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