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East Eats West
East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Paperback
  • Sep.01.2010
  • 9781597141383

Andrew gives an overview of the book:

East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres Andrew Lam The unexpected consequences of the Vietnamese diaspora From cuisine and martial arts to sex and self-esteem, East Eats West shines new light on the bridges and crossroads where two hemispheres meld into one worldwide "immigrant nation." In this new nation, with its amalgamation of divergent ideas, tastes, and styles, today's bold fusion becomes tomorrow's classic. But while the space between East and West continues to shrink in this age of globalization, some cultural gaps remain. In this collection of twenty-one personal essays, Andrew Lam, the award-winning author of Perfume Dreams, continues to explore the Vietnamese diaspora, this time concentrating not only on how the East and West have changed but how they are changing each other. Lively and engaging, East Eats West searches for...
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East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres

Andrew Lam

The unexpected consequences of the Vietnamese diaspora

From cuisine and martial arts to sex and self-esteem, East Eats West shines new light on the bridges and crossroads where two hemispheres meld into one worldwide "immigrant nation." In this new nation, with its amalgamation of divergent ideas, tastes, and styles, today's bold fusion becomes tomorrow's classic. But while the space between East and West continues to shrink in this age of globalization, some cultural gaps remain.

In this collection of twenty-one personal essays, Andrew Lam, the award-winning author of Perfume Dreams, continues to explore the Vietnamese diaspora, this time concentrating not only on how the East and West have changed but how they are changing each other. Lively and engaging, East Eats West searches for meaning in nebulous territory charted by very few. Part memoir, part meditation, and part cultural anthropology, East Eats West is about thriving in the West with one foot still in the East.

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California Cuisine of the World

My sister and I were strolling down Larkin Street in San Francisco one breezy summer

afternoon when there wafted by this pungent-salty aroma from some open window above.

I was about to name the dish, but the couple walking ahead of us beat me to it. “Hmm, I smell fish sauce,” said the blond woman in her mid-twenties. “Yup,” her male companion with tattoos on his arms agreed. “Catfish in clay pot. With lots of pepper—and a little burnt.”

We had to laugh; he was, well, right on the nose.

Yet when we first came to San Francisco from Vietnam over three decades ago, my paternal grandmother made that dish and our Irish neighbors complained about a “toxic smell.” Mortified, we apologized and kept our windows closed whenever Grandma had an urge to prepare some of her favorite recipes.

Many years passed. Though she is no longer around, no doubt Grandma would appreciate the fact that what was once considered unsavory (or even toxic) has become today’s classic. For in California, private culture has—like sidewalk stalls in Chinatown selling bok choys, string beans, and bitter melons—a knack of spilling into the public sphere, becoming shared convention.

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Andrew

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. 

His...

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Published Reviews

Feb.21.2009

Lam is a journalist by profession, but he writes with the delicacy and intensity of a poet. At a Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco, he contemplates two wooden clocks, one in the shape of Vietnam and...

Feb.22.2009

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...

Author's Publishing Notes

In this powerful collection of essays, Lam, a syndicated columnist and National Public Radio commentator, explores his identity as a Viet Kieu (a Vietnamese national living abroad) residing in the United States. On April 28, 1975, 11-year-old Lam and his family fled Saigon aboard a crowded C130 cargo plane just two days before the fall of Saigon to Communist forces (a day Lam would come to know as an "American rebirth"). His father, a respected South Vietnamese general, followed soon after, reuniting with the family in California, where they would begin at the bottom rung as they struggled to fulfill the American Dream. Looking deep within himself and his fellow Viet Kieu, Lam seeks to "marry two otherwise dissimilar and often conflicting narratives." He cites cultural critic Edward Said as he shows that to transcend one's national limits one must not reject attachments to the past but work through them. Lam, who grows to realize that home is "portable if one is in commune with one's soul," embraces the journey of self-discovery and concludes that one's identity is not fixed but "open-ended." What results is a cohesive presentation with broad appeal, allowing non-Viet Kieu to understand Lam's experiences. --Library Journal