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Khmer book review The Boss with a Thief’s Mind

Review by Say Tola / Khmer Times Share:
The Boss with a Thief’s Mind. KT/Srey Kumneth

“Thav Ke Chet Chor” (The Boss with a Thief’s Mind”) was written by Pov Youleng and Um Chhoeun in 1956, and first published in 1989.

The book depicts the divisions that existed between people of different social classes in the period after Cambodia gained independence from France. The authors offer a pessimistic take on what they see as the negative but overwhelming power of capitalism. At the end of the story, the bosses, who are portrayed unsympathetically, defeat and imprison the workers, who stand for justice and righteousness in the novel.

The story begins with a wealthy boss ordering his driver, Ham, to kill someone by causing a car accident, promising to pay him a huge amount of money in return. Needing money to support his sick wife, pay for his daughter’s education and help his mother make merit at the temple, Ham agrees.

Three people are killed in the crash. But when Ham tries to claim his money, his boss refuses and accuses him of murder. In this scene, the boss uses many insulting words to refer to
the driver.

Upon learning that Ham is to be arrested, the driver’s colleagues stand up for him and accuse the boss of being the real murderer, because the driver was just following orders. The boss attempts to trick and bribe these workers but they all turn him down. They understood that money isn’t everything.

The story ends with the arrival of the police. Although the police speak to all the workers, they still arrest the driver and some witnesses, believing the boss’ story that the workers lied because they were angry at him for refusing to increase their salary.

The book is remarkable for its examination of class and other social divisions in Cambodia at that time, and also for the parallels between its story and later events in Cambodian history. Sponsor book by scholar library

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