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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora Paperback – October 31, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

''Lam shatters the assumptions of readers who have encountered the Vietnam experience only through American pop culture....He writes with the delicacy and intensity of a poet.''--Los Angeles Times Book Review

''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

About the Author

Andrew Lam is an editor and cofounder of New America Media, an association of over two thousand ethnic media outlets in America. His essays have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines across the country, and his short stories are anthologized widely. Followed by a film crew back to his homeland, Vietnam, he was featured in the documentary My Journey Home, which aired nationwide on PBS in 2004. His book Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora won a PEN American Beyond Margins award in 2006. Lam currently lives in San Francisco.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Heyday; Original edition (October 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597140201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597140201
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As I read this collection of essays, I almost felt as if it were my own memoir. Lam's feelings of growing up in two different cultures struck a cord in me and made me realize that someone else out there felt the same way I did growing up in America.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Perfume Dreams is a must read book for all Vietnamese Americans. Andrew is a gifted writer, a gate keeper / history teller for Vietnamese American who are living in America. He has never lost his touch with his root.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Andrew Lam has been writing about the Vietnamese diaspora longer than anyone I know. Since the early 1990s his works have appeared in national publications. "Perfume Dreams" is the amalgamation of his perspectives, ones that many of us former refugees can relate in our own lives. I had the pleasure of taking part in book events in NYC and LA with Andrew. In a way we've come full circle since our last elementary school day in Saigon when a defecting South Vietnamese jet bombed the Presidential Palace a few hundred meters across the street. Pick up this must-have book to better understand the Vietnamese identity in America.
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This attracted me because we recently visited Vietnam and appreciated the people so much. The book gives you a feel for how lives changed as the result of the war. The various family members and acquaintances that Andrew Lam describes have very different experiences and perspectives on emigrating to the US. He also covers the perspectives of people in Vietnam now. Reading this is a very rich way to "live" a unique immigration experience that we helped create.
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Format: Paperback
Reading Lam's essays/stories gave me an important and incredible glimpse into another war refugee's experiences and thoughts on life and death. Being adopted from Vietnam as an infant, on paper, I'm part of the diaspora that came forth from the end of the Vietnam/American War. However, due to my age and circumstances, I have no recollection of my few months living in South Vietnam and no blood relations to tell me stories about the old country. The essays presented in Perfume Dreams made me reflect on what it might have, or could have, been like if I had left the country at an older age and with blood relatives.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Andrew Lam writes with such great passion and sensitivity that one becomes totally absorbed in his essays that are in his award winning book "Perfume Dreams". Truly a gifted effort that delivers a literary image of what it feels like to be a Vietnamese-American immigrant. His essays are like a coming of age story with so much more depth than most you read today. This book is amazing and inspiring--it will leave you in an emotional state long after you put the book down.

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!
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Format: Paperback
The telling of this most personal journey avoids any and all hyperbole or belittling. Boldly Andrew Lam presents the opportunities found by the exile who chooses to leave his homeland as well as the demanding adjustments he must undergo if he is to succeed in his adopted country.

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.
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Lam's writing is deeply moving. Going beneath an often impenetrable silence Lam reincarnates with passion, not only for himself and his family, but for many others as well, what it `feels' like to be an immigrant in America from Vietnam.

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!
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