Andrew Lam

Author

Andrew Lam is a former Vietnamese refugee and now lives in San Francisco. He is the author of the short story collection Birds of Paradise Lost, which received the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award and was a finalist for the California Book Award, as well as the essay collection Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, which received the PEN Open Book Award, and East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres. In 2004, Lam was the subject of a PBS documentary that aired nationwide. He has held teaching fellowships at San Jose State University and Stanford University. The recipient of support from Creative Work Fund to write a series of stories exploring the lives of those who’ve crossed borders in the 21st century and the relationship between Vietnam and California, Lam writes a regular column for Shanghai Daily and contributes regularly to the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Boom California, Al Jazeera, and the Huffington Post

When I reached America I was almost twelve years old and in a few years I had become someone else. I stopped praying to the dead, stopped believing in old fairy tales, stopped, for that matter, speaking Vietnamese altogether.

The short version is that I stopped wanting to remember—not that I could forget—that lost homeland, no longing to mourn who we used to be, what we used to own, and how we used to behave in the old world. I couldn’t bear that enormity of loss. None of it had helped me in the new world, so it seemed to me, and in fact my memories were like a heavy stone around my neck—they threatened to drown me each night. Often nostalgia renders many an exile helpless: failing to overcome his grief, his losses, he becomes an enemy of history….

Contributors

Some of my favorite people on earth are in this book,
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Annie Dillard