Andrew X. Pham: last name is pronounced 'fam'
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, Pham writes:
"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 never rewarding.
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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