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‘Long Love, Short Life’ author on Cambodia

Ek Tha / Khmer Times Share:
Information Minster Khieu Kanharith reads ‘Long Love, Short Life’. KT/Khem Sovannara

There are stacks of non-fiction books about Cambodia written and published by foreigners with lots of their information based on listening to local interpreters and documents in Khmer. Despite some of these foreign writers understanding or speaking Khmer, I do not believe they get the subtlety of the Khmer language as it is spoken, historically or today, especially colloquial usage such as slang, idioms, and even the body language. Getting inside someone else’s cultural mind-set is a challenge and I appreciate foreigners for their efforts.

I noticed that the culture of reading has declined over the years. Some readers are bored with dry solid historical texts that speak without heart or a sense of wonder while others skip the dry facts entirely. Neither approach gives us the taste, the touch, the essence, the internal sensation of living in those times, and the ambience of being there.

Those trends inspired me to write this novel “Long Love, Short Life” at this moment and it is the right time. Today we have a new Cambodia built on an old land. We’ve enjoyed full peace since late 1998 and since then there has been much forgetting, new generations forgetting their roots in the old land in the rush towards a brave new world and its challenges.

I want the Cambodian people not to forget their past suffering, losses, sorrowfulness, and their loved ones. But, unless we learn how to remember and forgive, and accept that reality, then those of us who experienced it first-hand, and the new generations for whom it remains an elusive, unexplored, inexperienced part of their spirit, we can never achieve the closure needed to heal the scars we cannot see and become whole again as a people.

I have no magic power to change the past but I have full rights and freedom to pen them so that we can avoid making the same mistakes and to better position our nation in the future.

I wrote and published a historical book about my country’s tragic past, still I did not believe that was enough. Another form of narrative was needed to bring the dry facts to life in a way that gives the reader a personal, visceral involvement with those events. I want younger generations to learn their country’s past and how they can build on that “old land”’ to better position their country when it comes to political decisions affecting the life and death of the nation and the people.

It is very important for us Cambodians to understand past experiences so that we might learn to avoid repeating the bad and build upon the good.

I therefore want to share my experiences—through this novel—to intrigue readers to learn and join hands to build this beloved nation to enjoy the hard-earned peace and developments that came with it.

Nothing is more valuable, beautiful, sweet and wonderful than life and love in this world. You can buy many things and you name them from A to Z but not life and true love. I would like to see people be grateful to those who helped them during the hardship and treat each other as friends, not foes.

It awakened me to pen novels one after another, I believe, intriguing readers through the fictions I transformed from historical facts into colourful romance, anger, fun, sorrows, worries, fears, sadness, horror, happiness, and weave them along with culture and traditions, among other issues. This novel would not be complete or honest without combining Cambodia’s domestic politics and its foreign diplomacy that played roles in contributing to the changes of Cambodia’s ups and down and ups again.

I expect the audiences – after reading my book of 20 chapters – will have more positive, nuanced points of view and values rather than just hearing about the same dark page over and over about Cambodia’s wars and tragedies. There are also a lot of positive sides out there to offer, such as the country’s bountiful natural resources and its rich cultural heritage, smiles, and much more.

I am also the author of “Factors Contributing to Cambodia’s Civil War 1950s- 1980s, lessons Then & Now”. I penned another novel, “Fight the Enemy, Find Love”. All publications are in English and will soon be available in Khmer. I am a spokesman of the Office of the Council of Ministers, advisor to the Ministry of Information, and Standing Vice-Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit.

 

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