Synopses & Reviews
From Andrew X. Pham, the award-winning author of Catfish and Mandala
, a sons searing memoir of his Vietnamese fathers experiences over the course of three wars.
The Philadelphia Inquirer hailed Andrew Phams debut, Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam, for evoking “the full sadness of the human condition . . . marveling at spiritual resilience amid irreconcilable facts.” The New York Times Book Review called it, simply, “remarkable.” Now, in The Eaves of Heaven, Pham gives voice to his fathers unique experience in an unforgettable story of war and remembrance.
Once wealthy landowners, Thong Van Phams family was shattered by the tumultuous events of the twentieth century: the festering French occupation of Indochina, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and the Vietnam War.
Told in dazzling chapters that alternate between events in the past and those closer to the present, The Eaves of Heaven brilliantly re-creates the trials of everyday life in Vietnam as endured by one man, from the fall of Hanoi and the collapse of French colonialism to the frenzied evacuation of Saigon. Pham offers a rare portal into a lost world as he chronicles Thong Van Phams heartbreaks, triumphs, and bizarre reversals of fortune, whether as a South Vietnamese soldier pinned down by enemy fire, a prisoner of the North Vietnamese under brutal interrogation, or a refugee desperately trying to escape Vietnam after the last American helicopter has abandoned Saigon. This is the story of a man caught in the maelstrom of twentieth-century politics, a gripping memoir told with the urgency of a wartime dispatch by a writer of surpassing talent.
"In a narrative set between the years of 1940 and 1976, Pham (Catfish and Mandala) recounts the story of his once wealthy father, Thong Van Pham, who lived through the French occupation of Indochina, the Japanese invasion during WWII, and the Vietnam War. Alternating between his father's distant past and more recent events, the narrative take readers on a haunting trip through time and space. This technique lends a soothing, dreamlike quality to a story of upheaval, war, famine and the brutality his father underwent following a childhood of privilege ('And that strange year, the last of the good years, all things were granted. Heaven laid the seal of prosperity upon our land. We were blessed with the most bountiful harvest in memory'). For those not familiar with Vietnamese history, Pham does an admirable job of recounting the complex cast of characters and the political machinations of the various groups vying for power over the years. In the end, he also gracefully delivers a heartfelt family history. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
ANDREW X. PHAM is the author of the memoir Catfish and Mandala
(winner of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award) and the translator of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram
, published by Harmony in September 2007. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and lives in Hawaii.