The Cambodian American Writers Who Are Reimagining Cambodian Literature
by KhmerLife on Jun 12, 2019
When I was a kid, the school librarian chased me down the hall with a book in her hand: First They Killed My Father, a memoir by Loung Ung. Like many Cambodian Americans of the 1.5 and second generation, I read survival literature to piece together my history--an important turning point for me as I navigated familial silence around the Khmer Rouge regime. But what if the librarian ran after me to give me a graphic novel about a Khmer girl who lived on the moon? What if she handed me a book about a queer Khmer boy living in Phnom Penh whose dream was to dance? A book with a different story?
The literature written by Cambodian diaspora often reflects the collective trauma rendered by the genocide that took place forty-four years ago, along with the urgency to heal. This storytelling is necessary. But sometimes I worry that the world reduces Cambodians, tokenizing my people inside a trauma narrative. How do we complicate our stories? How do we reimagine Cambodian American literature to include themes such as urbanism or sex or humor--themes that move away from the genocide?
Read full article at: https://electricliterature.com/there-is-more-than-one-way-to-be-cambodian