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New book set to teach next generation about Cambodia’s rich cultural history

Va Sonyka / Khmer Times Share:
Ek Tha gives his new book “Long Love, Short Life” to minister Khieu Kanharith at the Ministry of Information. KT/Khem Sovannara

EK Tha, formerly known as Ek Madra, a senior official of the government press department yesterday released a new English-language novel titled “Long Love, Short Life”.

The novel tells the story of an unlikely love between a woman from a poor family and a young man from a middle-class family who survived the Khmer Rouge regime.

The novel delicately captures the realities of the past, whilst keeping readers engaged in the love felt by the societal opposites, with the leading characters Dara and Doungchan not only divided by family class, but also emerging from the devastation of civil war.

In addition to the story of the young couple, the book also reflects Cambodia’s culture and tradition, detailing how the war and wealth has influenced the nation post-Cold War.

Author, Tha, said he was inspired to write the novel during a time when the country is at peace, to act as a reminder of its past.

“I want the people to not forget the suffering, the losses and their loved ones from the past. I want people from all walks of life to remember both the good and the bad. Through this novel, I can share my experiences to the younger generation, bringing them together to further understand our beloved country, its past and its future,” he said.

“I expect the global audience, after reading the book, will hear more of the positive parts of our past and our culture, rather than just focusing on the wars and infighting. They will see that Cambodia has so much more to offer, including our abundance of natural resources, beautiful landscape, rich culture heritage and of course, Cambodia’s smile,” he added.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, who has read the novel, said more books like this should be written to showcase the Kingdoms rich cultural tapestry.

“I encourage you, and other Cambodians, to write more books – especially those from personal experiences – to share with the next generation, which will in turn avoid them repeating the same mistakes in the future,” he said.

“I believe it is essential that our young people learn from our recent history but also the long proud history of the Khmer people, which stretches back over 1,000 years. Yet, the question has been how do we encourage them to do that? Ek Tha has given us the solution,” he said.

“By combining historical facts with well-written fictional tales, he opens our eyes to our past through Cambodian eyes. His observations and personal analysis provoke discussion and make the reader want to learn more of what has gone before,” he added.

Tha said it took him over a year to draft the 328-paged novel released yesterday. He said writing the book reminded him of the many memories and people he met and talked to about what they experienced during the Khmer Rouge regime.

He wrote in his book: “They shared with me their stories of suffering and loss and those sweet words will live on in my head and heart. My memories of their words continue to shine although some of them have now passed away.”

This first edition of the book will see 500 copies released, with some of the profits being used to support humanitarian projects in the Kingdom.

 

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