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. It 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 gives an overview of the book:
“Read Andrew Lam, and bask in his love of language, and his compassion for people, both those here and those from far away. He reminds us that we have history in common; we can laugh and cry together.”—Maxine Hong Kingston
“Andrew Lam’s Birds of Paradise Lost brilliantly engages the fundamental theme of much great literary work: who am I and what is my place in the universe? His stories are elegant and humane and funny and sad. Lam has instantly established himself as one of our finest fiction writers.”—Robert Olen Butler
“Andrew Lam’s exacting delivery is matched only by his mesmerizing story; and in this collection of tales, both raw and oneiric, is a majestic credo.”—Oscar Hijuelos
“I’ve been reading Andrew Lam’s work since he was a budding journalist nearly two decades ago. Lam is a sharp writer with wit, charm, and wisdom.”—Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala.
“After reading Birds of Paradise Lost, it feels as if one has been to the opera. This is a work drenched in color and music, sorrow and beauty. The intensity of emotion conveyed in these pages is stunning. A bravura performance.”—Lori Marie Carlson, author of The Sunday Tertulia“Grandma is in the freezer, there's Zoloft in the chicken curry, and a man is on fire in Washington D.C. The immigrant story will never be the same again now that it's gone through Andrew Lam's prose – razor-tongued, sophisticated, achingly aware of where it comes from but never imprisoned by its memory. Lam takes the traditional immigrant story and set it ablaze and then serenely rescues from its burning embers what had been there all along – the all-American story.”—Sandip Roy, commentator, Morning Edition, National Public Radio
Andrew is a syndicated writer and an editor with the Pacific News Service, a short story writer, and a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." He co-founded New America Media, an association of over 2000 ethnic media in America.
Andrew Lam is one of the premier interpreters of the Vietnamese diaspora in the United States. He is not only a highly talented and perceptive writer but also a personal participant in the drama played out...