Award-winning Vietnamese-American author Andrew X. Pham is a former resident of Santa Clara. He dropped out of the M.B. A. program at Santa Clara University to be a writer. Now Pham lives in Thailand where he grows rice, fruit and rubber trees. He visits the United States roughly once a year to see his family. So, students at Mission College were lucky to hear Pham speak at their school library and in classrooms on Oct. 8.
“I did a lecture here about 12 to 13 years ago, and the student body’s diversity has changed significantly since then,” Pham says. “The school’s more diverse now. I was surprised [that interest in] my work transcends racial lines.”
Pham wrote “Catfish and Mandala” and “The Eaves of Heaven,” both non-fiction books. “Catfish and Mandala is a memoir about Pham’s family’s journey coming to America and about his year-long solo bicycle trip through Vietnam. “The Eaves of Heaven” is a biography of Pham’s father, whose life has spanned through three wars, from the feudal period of Vietnam to the fall of Saigon. Pham has won awards for his work, including the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.
“I document stories that would never be written about or heard about by the Western world,” Pham says. “I feel it is my responsibility to document what we experienced of the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese perspective.”
Pham was born in Vietnam and came to the United States as a refugee when he was eight years old. He grew up in the Bay Area and was a food critic for the Metro, a Silicon Valley newspaper. He has also self-published a cookbook and started a food blog called spoonwiz.com. Although the site isn’t regularly updated, Pham still encourages food lovers to visit.
Pham spent the last 12 years traveling abroad in Southeast Asia. He is currently working on another book about Vietnam.