Thursday, June 24, 2010

Double engagement

Author Johan Smits signs a copy of his new book, Phnom Penh Express
Only two engagements after work today, a book launch at Monument Books and an opening party at The 252, a new contemporary boutique hotel of 19 rooms on Street 252, surprisingly enough. The book launch was for a new suspense novel by Phnom Penh Post and AsiaLife writer Johan Smits, titled Phnom Penh Express. He's lived in Cambodia for the past six years and felt the urge to set his novel in Phnom Penh and nowhere else. There's not even a token visit to Angkor Wat thrown in for good measure. In fact most of the action takes place along Street 240 and the launch was accompanied by plates of gorgeous but very rich chocolates, courtesy of the Chocolate Shop, which can be found along that very same street. Smits was quick to point out that any likeness to living individuals in the book, is pure coincidence. He got it published with the help of AsiaLife and this may well become an avenue for future authors to get their books published. I headed for The 252 after the launch, primarily as Espresso Thmei were performing, the slimmed-down duo of just Srey Thy and Scott, from the Cambodian Space Project. They were playing their first session next to the swimming pool when I arrived and did two more after that to keep the assembled throng entertained. The rooms at 252 are contemporary and what I call minimalist, with little in the way of decoration except a varying colour scheme for each floor. I spoke to Scott and Srey Thy between sessions and they are playing yet again tomorrow, at PSE in Stung Meanchey for the schoolchildren there. They still have plans to spend most of August in France, playing gigs and having fun, if they can get it sorted out.
The book launch was accompanied by a selection of lovely chocolates from The Chocolate Shop
Scott and Srey Thy perform as Espresso Thmei at The 252 opening last night

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