About The Author Andrew X Pham (pronounced fam) was born in Saigon,
Vietnam in 1967. His father, Thong Van Pham, worked for the
US during the Vietnam War and was imprisoned in a
reeducation camp after the war by the Communists. The family
arrived in California in 1977 as 'boat people'.
As a child, Andrew thought he would become a painter but
eventually followed his father (a software engineer) into
the same field, graduating from UCLA with a degree in
aerospace engineering in 1990. After briefly working
as an aircraft engineer, he realized he was unfit for
cubicle work so quit his job to pursue an M.B.A. and an M.S.
in Engineering. Eventually, he abandoned his studies,
and, saddled with debts, tried his hand at writing for a
living - working as a technical writer and editor and as a
restaurant critic for a local newspaper (which he notes was
a wonderful job for a starving artist!)
During this time he also bicycled through all the western
United States, part of Japan and finally, most of Vietnam.
The latter journey he recorded in
Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam, which won the 1999
Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.
Pham's other honors include the Whiting Writer Award, QPB
Nonfiction Prize, Quality Paperback Book Prize, Guardian
Shortlist Finalist, New York Times Notable Book of the Year,
a Barnes & Noble Discovery Book, a Border's Original Voices
Selection and the Oregon Literature Prize. In 2009 he
was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation 2009
Fellowship for nonfiction.
Speaking of his life to date on his website,
"It has been a long arduous road, filled with dark abysses,
marvelous heights, gut-rotting doubts, exquisite joys,
heartbreaks, memorable feasts, and long stretches of hunger.
The view ahead seems to promise more of the same. But I have
enjoyed the journey immensely. There is some truth in the
old proverb: The rewarding path is never easy, the easy path
Along the way, I've held a dozen different jobs and lived in
eight cities scattered across four states. I have been
traveling and living abroad since 2002. In a way, I have
become a painter of sort. Medium: words on paper. Subject:
life as I see it."
This biography was last updated on 07/03/2009.
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