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In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Vaddey Ratner

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6655414,427 (4.11)101
Member:sallyse
Title:In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel
Authors:Vaddey Ratner
Info:Simon & Schuster (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Khmer Rouge regime, Raami, survival

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In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel by Vaddey Ratner

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English (53)  Dutch (1)  All (54)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
A somber, spiritual, partially auto-biographical story. The daughter of a king in Cambodia survives 4 years in work camps, loses family, loses hope, is tortured and starved. Somehow she survives, and this book is written to memorialize the horrors wrought by the Kmer Rouge. A tough, yet touching read. It is hard to face the cruelties which are wrought, and continue to be wrought in our world, upon fellow humans! ( )
  hemlokgang | May 30, 2017 |
A must-read for anyone trying to understand the Khmer Rouge and the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. I read this while in Cambodia and visiting the Killing Fields and S21 Prison. I learned not to read this book just before going to bed, for I was sure to have bad dreams. Reading the book while visiting present day Cambodia, made me realize how Buddhism and the concept of compassion have helped Cambodians heal. “Every family has the same story.” I heard over and over again. “We’ve learned to live in harmony.” ( )
  brangwinn | Mar 25, 2017 |
"This story is born of my desire to give voice to ...the memories of all those silenced"
By sally tarbox on 12 March 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
About 3.5* for this pretty compelling novel - a fictionalized version of the author's own childhood experiences - under the Khmer Rouge in 1970s Cambodia.
The story opens in the paradise-like surroundings of the family home prior to the Revolution. As a scion of the Cambodian Royal Family, Rattner's poet father owns a glorious estate with flower-filled gardens and a plethora of servants. But the violence is just breaking out...
As the inhabitants of the capital are all forced out and relocated to work on the land, the country rapidly descends into chaos. The extended family who start out together find themselves split up, at the mercy of hypocritical 'comrades' whose denunciation of these 'imperialist pigs' doesn't prevent their helping themselves to their jewellery. The brutality of the Organization is unrelenting...
Where this very moving account failed slightly for me was in the narrator, Raami. Aged seven at the outbreak of revolution, I couldn't entirely believe in her I also found myself wondering about how the Khmer Rouge had started - what had prompted people to join this evil movement. Sure we see the glorious life enjoyed by the aristocracy, but were the working class living such a dire existence that it prompted many to embrace extremism? That is never clarified although perhaps it's not relevant - or answerable - in this account of the privileged class.

But these are minor quibbles - this is a powerful read that brings the horrors of Kampuchea vividly to life. ( )
  starbox | Mar 11, 2017 |
Absolutely wonderful and heartbreaking. Ratner somehow captures the innocence and knowledge of a young child who realizes that something horrible is happening around her but doesn't understand why. The language is beautiful and poetic, yet doesn't gloss over the trials and horrors that Raami goes through, it actually amplifies them. It's also an entirely personal look at the Cambodian genocide, as Ratner is a survivor and she based the book on her own experiences.

Read with a box of tissues! ( )
  Bodagirl | Jan 12, 2017 |
This has got to be the most beautifully written book I have read in quite awhile. The story is so very tragic but so well written. Although fictional, it is largely based on the authors own personal experience - writing must have been very therapeutic for her. I think one of the reasons it is so beautifully written is because of her pouring her heart and soul into this story. I highly recommend it. ( )
  lynnski723 | Dec 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
How is it that so much of this bleak novel is full of beauty, even joy? ...In interviews, Ratner has explained that she chose to write a novel rather than a memoir partly because she was too young at the time “to recall the exact details.” As a work of fiction, “In the Shadow of the Banyan” is less a testament to atrocity than a reconciliation with the past. At one point, Raami’s nanny tells her that stories “are like footpaths of the gods. They lead us back and forth across time and space and connect us to the entire universe.” What is remarkable, and honorable, here is the absence of anger, and the capacity — seemingly infinite — for empathy.
 
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For my mother In the memory of my father, Neak Ang Mechas Sisowath Ayuravann
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War entered my childhood world not with the blasts of rockets and bombs but with my father's footsteps as he walked through the hallway, passing my bedroom toward his.
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You are about to read an extraordinary story. 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 Cambodia 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.
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Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this novel is based on the author's personal story. 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.… (more)

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