Tuesday, April 2, 2013
A reading from his new work Birds of Paradise Lost
CHASS Interdisciplinary South (INTS) 1113 Symposium Room
The thirteen stories in Birds of Paradise Lost shimmer with humor and pathos as they chronicle the anguish and joy and bravery of America’s newest Americans, the troubled lives of those who fled Vietnam and remade themselves in the San Francisco Bay Area. The past—memories of war and its aftermath, of murder, arrest, re-education camps and new economic zones, of escape and shipwreck and atrocity—is ever present in these wise and compassionate stories.
The past plays itself out in surprising ways in the lives of people who thought they had moved beyond the nightmares of war and exodus. It comes back on TV in the form of a confession from a cannibal; it enters the Vietnamese restaurant as a Vietnam Vet with a shameful secret; it articulates itself in the peculiar tics of a man with Tourette’s Syndrome who struggles to deal with a profound tragedy. Birds of Paradise Lost is an emotional tour de force, intricately rendering the false starts and revelations in the struggle for integration, and in so doing, the human heart.
Andrew Lam (born 1964) is a Vietnamese American writer and journalist. He is currently the web editor for of New America Media. Lam received the PEN Open Book Award in 2006 for Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora. He is a contributor to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. His second book East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres was named Top Ten Indies by Shelf Unbound Magazine in 2010.