We asked Andrew Lam, author of Perfume Dreams : Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora (Heyday Books): What are your favorite books of all time?
Love in the Time of Cholera
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Penguin)
The first sentence of this book was like a trapdoor to some lush garden that I fell through and didn't emerge from until the last sentence, a couple days later. Then I read it again and again. It gave me another way to look at love and romance. Marquez gives beauty to old age and bodily functions and bad attitudes, because love-like his vision-can be extremely generous.
By Vladimir Nabokov (Vintage)
I think I partly love this novel because it was written by someone who wrote in a language that was not his first. I identify with that. But also because it is a daring piece of writing. Nabokov not only manages to give humanity to a child molester, but makes him sympathetic-that's quite a feat.
By Ian McEwan (Knopf)
This book really says something about the power of language and the imagination and how, through the act of telling a story, one could hope to redeem one's own deepest foible.