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Nov 3, 2011
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Andrew Lam is the award-winning author of 'Perfume Dreams' and 'East Eats West', authoritative novels on life in the Vietnamese diaspora. He is also a long time NPR commentator as well as a passionate activist working to end the trafficking of women around the world. Here Claudia Cragg speaks with him, and also with Betsey Coleman (a well known Denver teacher), on the importance of Lam's work in America today
Lam was born in 1964 in South Vietnam to a family of wealthy landowning farmers. The author says he led a ‘privileged life’ as the son of (South Vietnamese) General Lâm Quang Thi of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam The General, himself a prolific author, comes from a family of Cao Dai followers, while his grandmother was a Roman Catholic.
Before leaving Vietnam, Lam attended Lycée Yersin in Dalat but fled for Guam with his family during the fall of Saigon in April 1975. He attended the University of California, Berkeley where he majored in biochemistry only to abandon plans for medical school and ente a creative writing program at San Francisco State University. While still in school, he began writing for the Pacific News Service and in 1993 won the Outstanding Young Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
An acclaimed PBS documentary, produced by WETA, told three stories of Americans returning to their ancestral homelands, including of Lam's return to Vietnam He is currently the web editor of New America Media. He is also a journalist and short story writer. He is a regular contributor to National Public Radio's All Things Considered.