Cambodian-American poet Monica Sok recalls transgeneration trauma in her debut collection, A Nail the Evening Hangs On. Born in Pennsylvania to parents who have sought refuge in the United States, Sok retraces the contours of a difficult and important conversation on identity. She succeeds in using her Americanness to question her sense of belonging in the Cambodian narrative, while inviting the reader in two countries’ complex political history.
The amount of ink spilled on the 12th-century temple complex Angkor Wat might not fill Tonlé Sap Lake, but it sometimes feels like it might. This Khmer Empire monument dedicated to Vishnu is a UNESCO world cultural site, a global must-see on tourists’ bucket lists—and is the only archaeological monument featured on a national flag. Yet Michael Falser still finds a lot to say.
In his first novel in six years, astrophysicist turned essayist and best-selling novelist Alan Lightman, has directed his literary attention away from science and the heavens toward a place quite unexpected. Three Flames is an intimate portrait of three generations of a Cambodian rural family.
Year of the Rabbit is a graphic memoir that follows the journey of Lina, Khim, their son Chan, and their extended family members, as the Khmer Rouge take over Phnom Penh. Graphic in format, graphic in content, it is a story of resilience and hope, a profound testimony to one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.
A rare and precious glimpse of pre-Khmer Rouge literature, Suon Sorin’s recently translated novel is set during Norodom Sihanouk’s Cambodia. Originally published in 1961, it harks back to the late colonial and post-colonial eras.
When psychedelic rock music came to Southeast Asia via American GIs during the Vietnam War, it greatly influenced the music scene in Cambodia. Cambodian Rock Band, a new play running in Chicago through May 12 celebrates this resulting music that not only abruptly went away in 1975, but for the most part hasn’t been performed since then. Playwright Lauren Yee centers her story around the interaction of fictional band called The Cyclos with the very real person who directed the terror of the Tuol Sleng torture center, a former school that was converted in a prison during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Only seven people survived Tuol Sleng.
Brian Eyler isn’t a fan of dams, perhaps any of them, but at least not those that are, or may be, on the Mekong.