Blind Revenge on the Blameless Victim

First They Killed my Father
Loung Ung
Non-fiction
HarperCollins
2000

first_they_killed_my_fatherI didn’t much like being in Cambodia the first time I went there in early 2014.  Led by the most unbearable tour guide imaginable* in a small group made up mostly of middle-aged Australian couples with whom the only thing I had in common was a nationality, I experienced what in retrospect was most likely culture shock. And for a time I wondered if it was because of the effects of the Khmer Rouge genocide on the country. Such a savage and profound event leaves scars on people who endure it, and on the nation itself.

Nonetheless, even though my mother gave me First They Killed My Father to read before we left on this trip, I resisted it.  I didn’t want to read misery porn, which any biography about the Khmer Rouge must surely be.  It took these last few years for me to finally work up to reading it.  Along with a little assistance from a Dateline special and Sue Perkins travelling along the Mekong. Continue reading

Politician’s Funeral Pyre

The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Grove Press
November 2015

the_sympathizerThe Vietnam War, it will be no news to anyone, has had considerable impact on world history, both as a national tragedy for Vietnam and in its global cultural impacts.  It sparked a mass movement of people around and out of Vietnam and the rest of Indochina.  The song I’ve posted above is apparently about this migration.  I couldn’t find any English translation of the lyrics and sadly do not know any useful Vietnamese.  The Sympathiser follows the story of a migrant, the Captain, who journeys to the US as a refugee and sleeper agent for the Viet Cong.

Continue reading

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      HOBGOBLIN AND SWEET PUCK: FAIRY NAMES AND NATURES Gillian Edwards (1974) ISBN: 0713807105 Hobgoblin and Sweet Puck is one of those books that I’ve picked up a couple times in libraries but just managed somehow to read the wrong passages, then put it down again with an odd feeling that … Continue reading