In my struggle to overcome grief and confusion, I found my self. And when I spoke up for those that couldn’t, I found my tongue. And when I told stories of those oppressed and suffering in obscurity, I found my voice, and my direction in life.
Andrew Lam is the author of Birds of Paradise Lost, Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, which won the 2006 PEN Open Book Award, and East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres. He’s an editor and cofounder of New America Media, an association of over two thousand ethnic media outlets. He’s been a regular NPR commentator, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, and many other journals.
Featured at Talking Writing: This interview is part of a partnership with Talking Writing magazine. The How to Become a Writer Series here at PhD in Creative Writing now includes interviews with Talking Writing’s featured writers. Here is an excerpt of Andrew’s story “Grandma’s Tales,” published at Talking Writing:
The day after Mama and Papa took off to Las Vegas, Grandma died. Lea and me, we didn’t know what to do. Vietnamese traditional funerals with incense sticks and chanting Buddhist monks were not our thing.
“We have a big freezer,” Lea said. “Why don’t we freeze Grandma? Really, why bother Mama and Papa—what’s another day or two for Grandma now anyway?”
Since Lea’s older than me and since I didn’t have any better idea, we iced Grandma.
[Read the rest here at Talking Writing.]
Read more by and about Andrew:
Story: “Grandma’s Tales” at Talking Writing
Audio of Andrew reading “Grandma’s Tales”: American Public Media
Book of Stories: Birds of Paradise Lost
Book of Essays: East Meets West
Book of Essays: Perfume Dreams
NPR Commentaries: All Things Considered
How Andrew Lam Became a Writer
This is the next installment in the How to Become a Writer interview series, which will post here at Ph.D. in Creative Writing every other Sunday (or so) until I run out of writers to interview, or until they stop saying yes. Each writer answers the same 5 questions. Thanks to Talking Writing for sharing their writers, and thanks to Andrew for saying yes!
3. Who helped you along the way, and how?
5. What would you say in a short letter to an aspiring writer?