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Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora Paperback – October 31, 2005
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''Andrew Lam writes with the honesty of a true journalist and the feeling of a born storyteller. On his many journeys between Vietnam and the U.S., he sees first-hand the global consequences of war. Perfume Dreams is a meaningful book for our times.''--Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Fifth Book of Peace and Woman Warrior
''Much will be made--and rightly so--of the eloquent commentary Andrew Lam's essays provide on Vietnam and the Vietnamese. But his collected essays have a far deeper reach. Lam brilliantly illuminates the universal issues of self and home and human striving. Andrew Lam speaks to each of us quite individually and personally, with wit and compassion, about the things that connect us all at the deepest level. Perfume Dreams is a fascinating and important book by a truly gifted writer.''--Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
''Lam paints unforgettable portraits of the horror of refugee camps, a father who was once a three-star general, and a rebellious son who finally finds his own home, not in Vietnam or United States, but in the country of story.''--Maria Hummel, author of Wilderness Run
''As a first-generation Vietnamese American, Lam is able to write about the full spectrum of the Vietnamese immigrant experience, ranging from memories of idyllic childhood in Saigon to his family's painful post-war exile in America. Lam's insights into Asian American life are reflected in candid, witty anecdotes that reveal much about the difficulties of living in two cultures.'' --Audrey Magazine
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
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an important piece of literature because it truly captures the sentiment of the Vietnamese-American torn between two cultures, betweeen the contemporary and the traditional, between two separate generations, between war and peace.
For anyone who grew up feeling not really accepted by either your heritage culture or the current one, this is the book for you. Lam truly captures the Vietnamese-American experience and I highly recommend this book.
The Perfum Dreams touches all sides of experiences the Vietnamese refugees and immigrants. The "haves and not haves, the fortunate and unfortunate" lives of Vietnamese-Americans.
I am looking forward for more of his future books. We should all feel proud to have someone like Andrew to keep us in touch with ourselves and remind us of the challenges in living in America.
The author writes about his culture and his struggles for identity. He has roots in two countries not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally as well. His observations, along with his reactions, thoughts and his musings about life and other people are both insightful and entertaining; his essays are important chronicles. The book can be read in an afternoon but it may take a lifetime to fully appreciate what the author has lived and written about.
The book is worthy of your time to its read. I give this book my fullest personal recommendation. This book is a FIVE STAR BOOK!
Back in Vietnam he is viewed as one who is exceptional, a person who has achieved the highest level of sucess. Those opportunites, he finds, do not exist in fact or spirit in his native land.
I think the book is mainly a testament to the author's transformation from a rigid upbringing and deeply embedded cultural expectations into a world traveler and respected journalist. Each essay in the collection attempts to bring about a balance of subjective and objective points of view, and deftly comes to terms with ever-present nostalgia and modern reality.
In the future, I'm sure it'll be a pleasure to read his other two books that have been published since Perfume Dreams.
The stories are touching and genuine; the burning of the family memoirs and photos... painful. Trying to assimilate in American culture by telling wartime stories to assume popularity with classmates...tear-jerking, along with his first act of betrayal asking his brother, "Are you sure that's what you want me to say?" ...I had to laugh here however... reminded me so much of something I would have done/asked. And then the others; the Nguyen brothers, the long tearful flux of stories pouring from the detention center in Hong Kong, and his grandmother in the convalescent home... loved her however.
Tremendous & heartfelt writing. And indebted to the passage,' "Home is portable if one is in commune with one's soul. ...For mine is a landscape where Saigon, New York, and Paris intersect, where the Perfume River of Hue flows under the Golden Gate Bridge." Astonishing. Outstanding!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written with detail accounts of Lam's personal ordeal as a refugee.Published 3 months ago by Gene Jin Won Lee
Andrew Lam is a gifted writer and I love to read any of his books.Published 7 months ago by Orchidees
The book looks great~
I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, but it's nice and soft O----O the cover is soft.
Interesting perspective of life for a Vietnamese political refugee.Published 13 months ago by Thomas
Read this book for my book group. It was fascinating, lyrical, and beautifully written. I knew little about Vietnamese history and found this enlightening and educational. Read morePublished on May 9, 2013 by rebecca amitai
This is an insightful series of verbal cultural photos of the many varried experiences of Vietnamese refugees coming to the US in several waves after the war. Read morePublished on September 10, 2011 by Gary Burruss