Thien’s first memory isn’t a sight or a sound. It’s the sweetness of watermelon and the saltiness of fish. It’s the taste of the foods he ate while adrift at sea as his family fled Vietnam.
After the Pham family arrives at a refugee camp in Thailand, they struggle to survive. Things don’t get much easier once they resettle in California. And through each chapter of their lives, food takes on a new meaning. Strawberries come to signify struggle as Thien’s mom and dad look for work. Potato chips are an indulgence that bring Thien so much joy that they become a necessity.
Behind every cut of steak and inside every croissant lies a story. And for Thien Pham, that story is about a search—for belonging, for happiness, for the American dream.
Thien Pham is a graphic novelist, comic artist, and educator based in Oakland, CA. He is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel Sumo and did the art for the middle-grade graphic novel Level Up, written by Gene Luen Yang, and is an ongoing comic contributor to Eater SF. Currently Pham is working on his next graphic novel, teaching, and eating. A lot. Follow Thien on Twitter and Instagram.