In the Shadow of the Banyan
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A beautiful celebration of the power of hope, this New York Times bestselling novel tells the story of a girl who comes of age during the Cambodian genocide.
You are about to read an extraordinary story, a PEN Hemingway Award finalist “rich with history, mythology, folklore, language and emotion.” It will take you to the very depths of despair and show you unspeakable horrors. It will reveal a gorgeously rich culture struggling to survive through a furtive bow, a hidden ankle bracelet, fragments of remembered poetry. It will ensure that the world never forgets the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime in the Cambodian killing fields between 1975 and 1979, when an estimated two million people lost their lives. It will give you hope, and it will confirm the power of storytelling to lift us up and help us not only survive but transcend suffering, cruelty, and loss.
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 the Khmer Rouge attempts to strip the population of every shred of individual identity, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of her 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 a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Quite a number of years ago, I had the good fortune of an educational tour of Vietnam and Cambodia with two Professors from Cornell University. I clearly remember visiting the "killing fields" and the associated museums, and being so absolutely appalled by what had happened in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The world knew little about this genocide at the time I visited. This book, so touchingly written, put a real face on that part of history for me. Thanks to the author for her eloquent prose and vivid images of one of the most horrendous slaughters in world history.
One of my favorite books. A tragic story written in a beautiful way. If you are considering, please read this book.
A moving tribute
Valdez Ratner's tribute to her father and family is at once moving as well as disturbing. Even in the midst of horrifying detail of the suffering imposed upon the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge, Ratner conveys the deep meaning of hope and love. Her father's life lives within these pages that portray the will to live, to endure and to fly instilled in her and endowing her with courage and strength.