Friday, March 21, 2014

Idling's storm

A political thriller set in 1950s Cambodia, Song for an Approaching Storm, is published this month by Pushkin Press. Author Peter Fröberg Idling's first book, Pol Pot's Smile (2006) was a critically acclaimed work of literary nonfiction published in eight languages. He trained as a lawyer, and was working as legal advisor to an aid organization in Cambodia when the idea for his first book came about. His long anticipated first novel is also set in Cambodia, but like the debut, blurs fact and fiction in order to tell a remarkable story.

The Daily Mail Online reviewed Song for an Approaching Storm and had this to say: Set over a month in 1955 as Cambodia embarks on its first democratic elections, the story is told through the eyes of three people. Sar is in his 30s, a communist who has infiltrated the Democratic party, hoping to gain a position of influence, and who will one day change his name to Pol Pot. Sary is his main adversary, both politically and romantically. An advisor to Prince Sihanouk, he has his eye on Sar’s fiancée, the beautiful and enigmatic Somaly. Some say it was because Sar’s heart was broken by her fickle behaviour that he eventually became so radicalised. The author is a lawyer and biographer of Pol Pot who has worked in Cambodia and has a thorough knowledge of this fascinating and troublesome period.  He has produced a beautifully evocative and compulsive book in which the lyricism of the title reflects the prose of the narrative. Who would have thought I could read about Pol Pot in a sympathetic light?  But such is the power of this must-read novel.

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