The Eaves of Heaven
A Life in Three Wars
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About the author
ANDREW X. PHAM is the author of the memoir Catfish and Mandala (winner of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award) and the translator of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram, published by Harmony in September 2007. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and lives in Hawaii.
From the Hardcover edition.
From Andrew X. Pham, the award-winning author of Catfish and Mandala, a son’s searing memoir of his Vietnamese father’s experiences over the course of three wars.
The Philadelphia Inquirer hailed Andrew Pham’s debut, Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam, for evoking “the full sadness of the human condition . . . marveling at spiritual resilience amid irreconcilable facts.” The New York Times Book Review called it, simply, “remarkable.” Now, in The Eaves of Heaven, Pham gives voice to his father’s unique experience in an unforgettable story of war and remembrance.
Once wealthy landowners, Thong Van Pham’s family was shattered by the tumultuous events of the twentieth century: the festering French occupation of Indochina, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and the Vietnam War.
Told in dazzling chapters that alternate between events in the past and those closer to the present, The Eaves of Heaven brilliantly re-creates the trials of everyday life in Vietnam as endured by one man, from the fall of Hanoi and the collapse of French colonialism to the frenzied evacuation of Saigon. Pham offers a rare portal into a lost world as he chronicles Thong Van Pham’s heartbreaks, triumphs, and bizarre reversals of fortune, whether as a South Vietnamese soldier pinned down by enemy fire, a prisoner of the North Vietnamese under brutal interrogation, or a refugee desperately trying to escape Vietnam after the last American helicopter has abandoned Saigon. This is the story of a man caught in the maelstrom of twentieth-century politics, a gripping memoir told with the urgency of a wartime dispatch by a writer of surpassing talent.
From the Hardcover edition.
; June 2008
321 pages; ISBN 9780307409348Read online
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Title: The Eaves of Heaven
Author: Andrew X. Pham
Fall from Grace - Washington Post
Fri, 18 Jul 2008 00:00:00 -0700
Fall from GraceWashington PostPoised to inherit everything, Thong Pham instead lost it all, as Andrew X. Pham, his son, ...
In the press
One of the Ten Best Books of the Year, Washington Post Book World
One of the Los Angeles Times’ Favorite Books of the Year
One of the Top Ten National Books of 2008, Portland Oregonian
A 2009 Honor Book of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association
“The ‘I’ of the first-person narration, belonging not the author but to his father; the Edenic lushness of Thong’s childhood memories, intermingled with the wrenching dramas to come: These are the devices of sophisticated fiction, drawing us in while keeping us precariously off balance.”
—The Boston Globe
“[A] work of radiance. In some ways, it resembles that supreme recollection of a world lost to history’s depredations, Speak, Memory, in which Vladimir Nabokov summoned up his pre-revolutionary Russian boyhood. . . . [A]s with Tolstoy’s war and peace, darkness, intrinsically formless, gets shape and vividness from the light playing through it. . . . brilliantly chilling . . .”
—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
“Thong Van Pham is constantly fleeing and rebuilding in the midst of war, watching world after world vanish, from the feudal estate of his childhood to the Hanoi of the ‘50s to the Saigon of the 70s. He and his son have done us the extraordinary service of bringing a few pieces of those worlds back again.”
—New York Times Book Review
“ . . . [A] gorgeously written book . . . [Pham] seems to have risen to a new level of quiet and powerful storytelling. . . . The Eaves of Heaven is built from a series of short vignettes -- some sweet, some horrifying -- which are not recounted in chronological sequence, but linked in a narrative that darts nimbly across time, lingering on haunting scenes of brutality and violence as well as of beauty and love. . . . It's the absence of chronology that gives Thong's story its magic and depth, and allows it to be sustained by his observations of the ephemeral and the descriptions of unforgettable characters.”
—Washington Post Book World
“[A] searing story . . . The remembered images of more tranquil, carefree times are what make the subsequent depictions of wartime terrors and devastation so heartbreaking. . . . Pham has a novelist’s eye for telling details . . .”
“There are some books that writers shouldn’t read . . . because they are so good they make you despair that you could ever write so well yourself. The Eaves of Heaven by Andrew X. Pham, is such a book. Pham . . . is the best kind of memoirist. . . . He understands a memoir is not really about oneself but about a period, a time, a people. . . . As a memoir, The Eaves of Heaven accomplishes what few polemics do – it is a sweeping personal indictment of war, a reassuring and yet merciless affirmation of the human spirit.”
“Pham deftly paints a compelling portrait of life during three wars in Vietnam . . . This beautifully written books is essential for public and academic libraries.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“War-torn as it was, a lost world lives again in Thong’s recollections of the passions of his life: food, friends, family, romance. Personal tragedy and triumph, related with amazing perspective against an epic backdrop.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“World-shaping events that most Americans know merely through schematic maps and historical summaries take on a poignantly human immediacy in this story of one storm-buffeted man: Thong Van Pham, the author’s father. . . . By turns touching and searing, this slice of history—like Pham’s earlier Catfish and Mandala (1999)—deserves a wide readership.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Alternating between his father’s distant past and more recent events, the narrative takes readers on a haunting trip through time and space. This technique lends a soothing, dreamlike quality. . . Pham does an admirable job of recounting the complex cast of characters and the political machinations of the various groups vying for power over the years. In the end, he also gracefully delivers a heartfelt family history.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
From the Hardcover edition.