Khmer novel ‘Kaliyuk Nov Longvek’

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“Kaliyuk Nov Longvek” (The Turmoil at Longvek) was written by well-known author Kong Bunchhoeun in 1968. It was published by Sovann Phum News and gained a significant readership at that that time.

While only a short novel, it depicts many incredible situations facing the Khmers during the Longvek period. In the story there is a king who likes to hunt for sport. One day, while tracking a tiger, he gets lost in the forest and cannot find his way back to the Royal Palace.

He keeps walking until he reaches a house on top of a mountain where an old woman lives with some young girls. After a long conversation, the king, Srey Soriyor Por, gets to know the background and bitter history of that family.

The book aims to teach readers about karma. In one scene, Rom Deng, the old woman, tells him about the death of her husband. He was killed by an elephant after stealing a worker’s wife and ordering other workers to steal fish from another person’s pond.

Besides that, the book also encourages women to do things that men can do. Rom Duol, a daughter of Rom Deng, becomes a soldier to protect the country. If you want to reach your goal, nothing is as important as practising it, whether you are a man or a woman. Rom Duol always practises hard until she becomes an officer. She is taught a lot by King Srey Soriyor Por as well.

The book focuses a lot on the war between the Khmers and Siam (modern-day Thailand) and the war between Siam and Morn. It tells the readers about the aggressive mindset and greed of Siam during that time. At the same time, it depicts the magical knowledge of the Khmer people, and how they use this during war, such as by turning invisible.

Nothing can defeat the unity and purity of the Khmer people. The book ends by revealing the identity of the murderer of Rom Duol’s mother. She eventually kills the murderer after she is guided by the soul of her mother (as the murderer had been hiding himself by using his magic).

The book aims to teach us about the need for unity in governing a country. If there is no strong collaboration internally, the state can be taken over by another country. Also, it teaches readers about Karma. Even if you are strong at using magic, you still cannot win over purity and goodness. Importantly, it encourages women to challenge the barriers that stand in their way. Women can be as strong as men if they try.

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