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Paper Sons: A Memoir
Dickson Lam

Autumn House
2018 • 248 pp. 6 x 9"
Memoir / Biography - Cultural Heritage / Biography - Writers

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-938769-28-3
$9.99 Ebook, 978-1-938769-31-3

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Dickson Lam’s Paper Sons is a groundbreaking memoir about growing up Chinese American, about working class kids of color in the Bay Area, about the... [continued in Reviews below]”—David Mura, author of Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei

A memoir by debut author Dickson Lam

Set in a public housing project in San Francisco, Lam's memoir explores his transformation from a teenage graffiti writer to a high school teacher working with troubled youth while navigating the secret violence in his immigrant's family's past.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

"It’s rare to find a work that so eloquently paints a portrait of the life of another, through rich and deeply textured writing that both captures and preserves life’s multiple dimensions in a two-dimensional work of art. Dickson Lam’s memoir, Paper Sons, achieves that often elusive goal in a way that invites the reader not only into the homes of the author and his family, but also into the experiences of immigrants in a city that is often superficially welcoming, but deeply hostile."—JENNIFER SCHNEIDER, The Coil

“This moving memoir about coming of age in the hardscrabble streets of San Francisco while coming to terms with a dysfunctional family sheds fresh light on the Asian American immigrant experience. Charting a heart-wrenching journey of strength and forgiveness, Paper Sons is an exhilarating debut.”—Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa

“Dickson Lam’s Paper Sons is a groundbreaking memoir about growing up Chinese American, about working class kids of color in the Bay Area, about the sorrows and survival of his troubled family. Through his roles as a son, a student, a teacher, and a writer, Lam creates three-dimensional portraits of people who have too often been silenced in our culture, and he rings immense sympathy even to those who have hurt or disappointed him, particularly his father. This is a moving and necessary work, and I thoroughly agree with one of his students, “You’re a deep man, Mr. Lam.”—David Mura, author of Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei

“Raw, monstrous, white-knuckled recollections of love-hate, hate-love, abuse, regression, repression, and all the darkness-and-light any foolish-brave memoirist could possibly summon forth. It rings true to anyone who has gulped deeply from that well of pain. Highly recommended!”—Andrew X. Pham

“Dickson Lam’s Paper Sons combines memoir and cultural history, the quest for an absent father and the struggle for social justice, naming traditions in graffiti and in Chinese culture. Violence marks the story at every turn—from Mao to Malcolm X, from the projects in San Francisco to the lynching of Asians during the California Gold Rush. After one of his former students at the June Jordan School of Equity is gunned down on a street corner, Lam is compelled to tell a mosaic of stories. What does it take, in this social context, to become a person who respects himself and holds hope for those coming up through a culture of exclusion and violence? Lam writes with a depth of hard-won understandings both political and psychological. This is an important book, beautifully crafted, rich in poetic image and juxtapositions, that offers insight and compassion for a nation struggling to make sense of its immigrant nature. I congratulate Dickson Lam on this fine work.”—Alison Hawthorne Deming

“With Paper Sons, Dickson Lam dissects his own life as a vehicle for understanding what it is to be a good man in this world. Paper Sons isn’t just a memoir, it’s a triumph. Dickson Lam yanks you into his heart and sews up his chest behind you. The only thing breaking out is this debut.”—Mat Johnson

“From China to Hong Kong to San Francisco’s North Beach projects, Dickson Lam’s Paper Sons (and daughters) navigate the mysteries and betrayals of deleted and recovered memory, of tagging crews and migrant parents, of generational secrets. Dickson Lam’s unforgettable characters blaze like falling stars and illumine a world. Paper Sons, written in short pieces like a document torn and reassembled, is also the story of a determined younger brother who reclaims the truth, and the fierce, protective sister who shows him the way.”—Jayne Anne Phillips


Winner of the Autumn House Nonfiction Contest, selected by Alison Hawthorne Deming (2017)

DICKSON LAM’s work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, the Kenyon Review Online, Hyphen Magazine, The Normal School, PANK, The Good Men Project, The Rumpus, and Kartika Review. He holds MFA degrees in creative writing from the University of Houston and Rutgers-Newark. Currently, Lam is an Assistant Professor of English at Contra Costa College

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:58:55 -0500