Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape
Participants will read the book before the meeting. We will discuss it when we meet. Participants are expected to read at least some part of the book. Unfortunately this book isn't available in the public library but is available on Kindle and on Amazon.
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.
He writes and lives on the Thai-Laos border in a traditional wooden farm bungalow he built on the Mekong River. He teaches writing and occassionally lead bicycle tours in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. He has launched a culinary project on Kickstarter.com, titled A Southeast Asian Love Affair: My Cookbook Diary of Travels, Flavors and Memories, a literary work that tells the stories of his life in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. He can be found at andrewxpham.com
Andrew X. Pham also won a Whiting Writer Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Montalvo Fellowship.
Winner of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize,
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year,
A Seattle Post-Intelligencer Best Book of the Year
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