Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this searing first novel - based on the author's personal story - has been hailed by Little Bee author Chris Cleave as "a masterpiece... utterly heartbreaking and impossibly beautiful."
For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. Soon the family's world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus.
Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood - the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. Displaying the author's extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.
©2012 Vaddey Ratner (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
"This stunning memorial expresses not just the terrors ofthe Khmer Rouge but also the beauty of what was lost. A hauntingly powerful novel imbued with the richness of old Cambodian lore, the devastation of monumental loss, and the spirit of survival." (Publishers Weekly)
"Vaddey Ratner's novel is ravishing in its ability to humanize and personalize the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. She makes us look unflinchingly at the evil that humankind is capable of, but she gives us a child to hold our hand - an achingly believable child - so that we won't be overwhelmed. As we have passed from one century of horrors and been plunged into a new century giving us more of the same, In the Shadow of the Banyan is a truly important literary event." (Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)
"Often lyrical, sometimes a bit ponderous: a painful,personal record of Cambodia's holocaust." (Kirkus Reviews)
"moving and brilliant"
Was absolutely mesmerised by this book. Beautiful writing with rich and detailed descriptions, drawing you into the characters, the place and the time. A powerful story based on real life, which makes it even more poinient. Totally recommend!
"Poetry in prose - a masterpiece of storytelling."
The most powerful book I have read this year. Impossibly moving, most elegantly written book, poetically even, despite writing about one of the worst and most devastating atrocities in human history. The most unique account of human resilience, even at such young age, the nourishing power of narratives and stories, even in the most unbelievably difficult times, and most of all - incredible power of love between the child and her father, which becomes a source of life force - physically, at times of the greatest famine, and emotionally at times of the most profound trauma and desolation. Instead of slipping into a self-pity, or anger, which must have required the greatest integrity, the whole book conveys the most profound humanity - in fact, there are so many very deep messages, which left a strong impression on me, that I definitely want to re-read the story again. I could not recommend it more highly.
"Fantastic, a MUST LISTEN"
Superbly written, nicely read and a tragic tale. This is a book everyone should read. It is a great example of man's inhumanity to man and what twisted political ideas can lead to.
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