Shadow of a Doubt by Somanos Sar
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 03:01:42 -0800 (PST)
Book Review: Digging up a painful past
Written by MARTINE VERROT
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Title: L'Ombre d'Un Doute
Author: Somanos Sar
Somanos Sar was 17 years old when he arrived in Paris with a shattered
heart and not a word of French in his vocabulary. He had endured three
years, eight months and 20 days of back-breaking labour in the rice
fields under the Khmer Rouge regime. He had lost all of his family
except for his mother, who was the only one left to join him in his
new home, far away from home.
After 29 years, Sar is the author of two award-winning novels, both of
which are rooted in his traumatic experience back in Cambodia.
In 2005, Khmer Apocalypse earned him the Prix des Tropiques Agence
Francaise de Development (AFD). For his latest work, L'Ombre d'Un
Doute (which translates to the Shadow of a Doubt), Sar became the
second recipient of the Phnom Penh Accueil Literature Prize in March
The book, Sar writes on his website, is a tribute to his sister
Thidima, who "sacrificed her life for her loved ones".
What truly matters
With L'Ombre d'Un Doute, the author takes readers on a journey of
adventure, thrills and espionage.
Its main themes are giving selflessly, forgiveness, the guilt and the
responsibility of having survived, and the place of death in life.
Without being bitter or moralising, yet profoundly shaped by personal
experiences, the book represents Sar's vision of the true values in
Written in a light and direct, even conversational style, the novel
makes for a pleasant and easy read. It will be particularly
interesting to young Cambodians who are likely to appreciate the
author's philosophical innuendos.
The book is published in French and Khmer - unfortunately it has not
been translated to English yet - and a study guide will be included in
the edition published in Cambodia.
Here, perhaps more than abroad, L'Ombre d'Un Doute achieves its full
effect as it provides an escape from reality and stimulates the
imagination. It is a refuge for some, a place to live for others.
Between its lines, readers can discover, as it were, the true "Khmer
Strengthening cultural ties
The Phnom Penh Accueil is a francophone association founded in 2001.
Through social and cultural activities, and communicating with the
local community, Phnom Penh Accueil aims to facilitate the adaptation
of French-speaking newcomers to Cambodia. It also seeks to strengthen
the cultural ties between Cambodia and the French-speaking countries
in the world.
The Phnom Penh Accueil offers its members, and the entire French-
speaking community, a variety of activities that prioritise Cambodia
and its history.
Somanos Sar will be signing copies of L'Ombre d'Un Doute at 5pm today
at the French Cultural Centre in Phnom Penh. The book will retail for
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