After reading the novel Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham, I honestly will not be recommending it to anyone. I thought it terribly boring and racially stereotypical. I found myself struggling to pick it up and read when normally I am quite an active reader (I often wanted to read another book instead). Although I agree with certain values found in the novel, I struggled with others. I felt as though the only refreshing message was that your past doesn't dictate your identity, you do.
I really struggled to latch on to this story on an emotional level as Pham's writing did not pull me in thus making me feel unattached to the characters I so desperately wanted to feel for. Maybe I'm just a lazy reader, but I feel as though it is the author’s job to make me a part of the book, not my own. It was hard to feel sad about his sister Chi's death when all he kept talking about was how sore his muscles were from riding his bycicle and how sorry he felt for himself and the rest of Vietnam while he drank himself silly.When He described the Vietnamese as a sad and wanting people, it made me think about his point of view. In this moment he feels as though he has the right to say these things about the Vietnamese because it is not a stereotype since it is of his own people. The truth is, is that he did not live in Vietnam the way these people did and how even though he feels connected to them he will never be one of them and cannot find himself with them. I did not enjoy this read and most of what it said. I just found it sad and boring.