Saturday, May 20, 2006

A nice surprise....

Whilst web surfing this afternoon, I popped into Loung Ung's own website at http://www.loungung.com and found a nice surprise in Loung's Blog:

"Great Website on Cambodia! Andy's a very cool guy and writer. We met way back in 2001 in England. Needless to say I dig that he's a compassionate and sensitive friend to many Cambodians and everything related to Cambodia. I log onto his site frequently. http://andybrouwer.co.uk/home.html"

Thanks Loung, I appreciate and value your support.

Loung did an email interview with me way back in 2000, the same year as her first book, First They Killed My Father, was published by HarperCollins, and we've kept in email contact since. I met her briefly on her one and only visit to England in April 2001 at a book-signing/reading session in Birmingham. At the session Loung gave a vivid and passionate description of her life as a child in Cambodia, before and after the takeover by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. She explained why she wrote the book in the style of a child narrator and read three short passages from her work. The most moving part of her story was a powerful account of how she was denied a normal childhood and lost some of the people she loved the most, like her father, mother and two sisters. For a long time, she couldn't understand why her mother had sent her away until she realised that had increased her own chance of survival. And survive, she did. As an orphan in a labour camp, she was trained as a child soldier. "When I was eight, instead of a baseball bat, I had a gun and was trained to run in a zig-zag line to avoid bullets." She was keen to point out that her story was just one of hundreds of thousands of children, whose own stories will never be heard. "If you had been living in Cambodia during this time, this would be your story too."

To promote her book but moreso as a spokesperson for the Campaign For A Landmine Free World, Loung has travelled tirelessly across the length and breadth of the United States speaking at colleges and universities, visited countries worldwide and in early 2005, brought out her second book, Lucky Child. Both books have received widespread acclaim from the general public and I myself have received numerous emails from people inspired by Loung's story and her books. To view my own webpage on Loung, go to: http://andybrouwer.co.uk/lung.html

I reviewed Lucky Child for my own Book Review webpage, and it reads as follows:
"Loung Ung's fascinating second book, Lucky Child, picks up the story that began with her first memoir, First They Killed My Father, and with both books I found it impossible to put them down once I'd begun reading. Lucky Child contrasts life for Loung as a refugee in America, with her sister Chou's life in rural Cambodia, and it's a revealing and moving comparison. Loung, with lasting feelings of guilt for those she'd left behind, found it difficult to fit in, whilst Chou, resigned to her fate, displayed the resilience and inner strength that is apparent in so many of her fellow countrymen and women.
I found two parts of this remarkable book particularly poignant, the heart-rending death of three-year-old Kung and the reunion between Chou and her brother Meng after a separation of eleven years. These passages were hard to read. Whilst the eventual meeting of Loung and Chou is an awkward affair, the tale of their brother Kim's escape from Cambodia to France is enthralling. The book tells a tale that underscores the importance of the bond between family members, the sheer strength of the human spirit and will to endure and most of all, it's a story of two sisters who have survived and flourished against all odds. Loung Ung has a special talent at storytelling. I recommend this book without hesitation."

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