There are not so many Cambodian authors who publish books every year. Today, I would like to review some authors who published their books about true story of their personal lives, their experiences, what’s really happening in Cambodia, also the award-winning and national bestseller of the year such as First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers was selected by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians’ Association for “Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature.
A Proper Woman: The story of one woman’s struggle to live her dreams by Thavry Thon (Author), Peter Ford (Editor)
This is the true story of a young Cambodian woman who has challenged her country’s social and cultural norms throughout her life and as a consequence has become an ambassador for female empowerment. Growing up on an island in the Bassac River, removed from many of the conveniences of modern life and surrounded by traditional customs and thought, Thavry’s story is one of inspiration to females around the world. As Cambodia slowly recovers from the great turmoil and destruction of civil war and the Khmer Rouge, rural life largely returned to familiar, century-old ways. For women, this meant marrying young, bearing children and working on the family farm, with little say in anything. But with support from her parents, whose own childhood experiences had been greatly shaped by the four years of Khmer Rouge rule, Thavry was taught to value education as a means of breaking from the confines of the village and to forge her own independent future. Her inspiring story shows that encouraging young women to believe in their dreams – and supporting them to do so – can lead to a freedom to learn and grow unknown to earlier generations.
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (P.S.) by Loung Ung (Author)
[Buy it from Amazon: $10]
One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung’s family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed.
Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung’s powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.
Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind (P.S.) by Loung Ung (Author)
After enduring years of hunger, deprivation, and devastating loss at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, ten-year-old Loung Ung became the “lucky child,” the sibling chosen to accompany her eldest brother to America while her one surviving sister and two brothers remained behind. In this poignant and elegiac memoir, Loung recalls her assimilation into an unfamiliar new culture while struggling to overcome dogged memories of violence and the deep scars of war. In alternating chapters, she gives voice to Chou, the beloved older sister whose life in war-torn Cambodia so easily could have been hers. Highlighting the harsh realities of chance and circumstance in times of war as well as in times of peace, Lucky Child is ultimately a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and to the salvaging strength of family bonds.
Lulu in the Sky: A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing, and Double Happiness by Loung Ung (Author)
Concluding the trilogy that started with the bestselling memoir First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung describes her college experience and her first steps into adulthood, revealing her struggle to reconcile with her past while moving forward towards happiness. After the violence of the Khmer Rouge and the difficult assimilation experience of a refugee, Loung’s daily struggle to keep darkness, anger, and depression at bay will finally find two unexpected allies: the empowering call of activism, and the redemptive power of love. Lulu in the Sky is the story of Loung’s journey to a Cambodian village to reconnect with her mother’s spirit; to a vocation that will literally allow her to heal the landscape of her birth; and to the transformative influence of a supportive marriage to a loving man.
The Governor’s Daughter (The Mysteries of Colonial Cambodia Book 1) Kindle Edition by Sambath Meas (Author)
[Buy it from Amazon: $3]
Anjali Chinak, a strong-minded daughter of a Khmer detective, is shocked by the horrible fate of her Eurasian friend, Esmè Laurent, who happens to be the governor’s daughter of Siem Reap, Cambodge. Anjali has her suspicions about the perpetrator. It could be the same man who has wreaked havoc in other Southeast Asian countries. When Anjali identifies a clue that makes her certain of the identity of her friend’s killer, she sets out to seek justice. Devastatingly, she finds herself biting off more than she can chew.
The Immortal Seeds: Life goes on for a Khmer family by Sambath Meas (Author)
The Vietnam War had a major impact on the American people and politics. Unfortunately, the majority of people in the world do not know that the Vietnam War also happened in Cambodia and Laos. This is a story of a Khmer family that lived through the legacy of the Nixon/Kissinger doctrine that helped the Khmer Rouge rise to power, resulting in the murder of over one million of their own people. Although almost two million Khmers had perished, those of us who survived this dark period and dispersed all over the world are their immortal seeds.
The Secret Lover (My Writing On Cambodia Book 1) by Santel Phin (Author)
Malai is a good girl who works in a luxury club in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. She’s beautiful, smart and determined. She wants a better future for herself and her family. She comes up with a plan: trap a successful businessman.
One night she takes a risk and gives him the only precious thing she has.
Will she be accepted or rejected? Is her plan about love, or money?
This contemporary short story by a rising star in Cambodian literature exemplifies new forms of fiction emerging from Southeast Asia. It is both complex and heartwarming. Don’t miss this one!
The Rice Fields – A New Story From Cambodia (My Writing On Cambodia Book 2) by Santel Phin (Author)
There’s not enough water in the rice field. The rain doesn’t come. Sim wants to buy a pumping machine. She goes to Phnom Penh looking for Sam, her husband, who doesn’t send money back home for 3 months.
Sam loses a lot of money in soccer’s bets. To pay back his debt, he becomes a hit man.
The Rice Fields is a fresh contemporary fiction that will update you on what’s happening in the Cambodia after the killing fields.
When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge by Chanrithy Him (Author)
Chanrithy Him felt compelled to tell of surviving life under the Khmer Rouge in a way “worthy of the suffering which I endured as a child.”
In the Cambodian proverb, “when broken glass floats” is the time when evil triumphs over good. That time began in 1975, when the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia and the Him family began their trek through the hell of the “killing fields.” In a mesmerizing story, Him vividly recounts a Cambodia where rudimentary labor camps are the norm and technology, such as cars and electricity, no longer exists. Death becomes a companion at the camps, along with illness. Yet through the terror, Chanrithy’s family remains loyal to one another despite the Khmer Rouge’s demand of loyalty only to itself. Moments of inexpressible sacrifice and love lead them to bring what little food they have to the others, even at the risk of their own lives. In 1979, “broken glass” finally sinks. From a family of twelve, only five of the Him children survive. Sponsored by an uncle in Oregon, they begin their new lives in a land that promises welcome to those starved for freedom. 15 black and white illustrations.
The Elimination: A survivor of the Khmer Rouge confronts his past and the commandant of the killing fields by Rithy Panh (Author), Christophe Bataille (Author), John Cullen (Translator)
From the internationally acclaimed director of S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, a survivor’s autobiography that confronts the evils of the Khmer Rouge dictatorship.
Rithy Panh was only thirteen years old when the Khmer Rouge expelled his family from Phnom Penh in 1975. In the months and years that followed, his entire family was executed, starved, or worked to death. Thirty years later, after having become a respected filmmaker, Rithy Panh decides to question one of the men principally responsible for the genocide, Comrade Duch, who’s neither an ordinary person nor a demon—he’s an educated organizer, a slaughterer who talks, forgets, lies, explains, and works on his legacy. This confrontation unfolds into an exceptional narrative of human history and an examination of the nature of evil.
The Elimination stands among the essential works that document the immense tragedies of the twentieth century, with Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man and Elie Wiesel’s Night.