The Disappeared

The Disappeared

3.7 43
by Kim Echlin
     
 

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A fiercely beautiful love story for the ages, The Disappeared traces one woman’s three-decades-long journey from the peaceful streets of Montreal to the war-torn villages of Cambodia, as a brief affair turns into a grand passion of loss and remembrance, set against one of the most brutal genocides of our time. When sixteen-year-old Anne Greves first meets

Overview

A fiercely beautiful love story for the ages, The Disappeared traces one woman’s three-decades-long journey from the peaceful streets of Montreal to the war-torn villages of Cambodia, as a brief affair turns into a grand passion of loss and remembrance, set against one of the most brutal genocides of our time. When sixteen-year-old Anne Greves first meets Serey, a Cambodian student forced to leave his country during the rise of the Khmer Rouge, she never considers the consequences of their complicated romance. Swept up in the infatuation of young love, Anne ignores her father’s wishes and embraces her relationship with Serey in Montreal’s smoky jazz clubs and in his cramped yellow bedroom. But when the borders of Cambodia are reopened, Serey must risk his life to return home in search of his family. A decade later, Anne will travel halfway around the world to find him, and to save their love from the same tragic forces that first brought them together. In aching, tender prose, Kim Echlin challenges our notions of how to both claim the past of move on after insufferable loss. Part elegy, part love letter, part call to arms, The Disappeared is a soaring tribute to those who have disappeared in the violent conflicts throughout history.

Editorial Reviews

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A love story set against the background of the Cambodian killing fields, Echlin’s novel is a Romeo and Juliet for our time. Sixteen-year-old Anne, raised by her widowed father, attends a proper young ladies’ school in Montreal. But Anne has a secret – she sneaks into blues clubs with her tutor, and one night, she meets Serey, a sexy Cambodian musician who plays the songs of his people as well as blues and rock.

Serey was in Canada when the Cambodian government fell, and his father begged him not to come home. The sheltered girl and the accidental refugee fall passionately in love; between them “everything was animal sensation and music.” They play the role of a gorgeous, exotic couple until the borders reopen, and Serey’s yearning for home and his family pulls him away.

Eleven years later, Anne flies to Phnom Penh to search for Serey in the chaos left by war and famine, following in the footsteps of the biblical heroine Ruth, who declared, “Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.” Her love is undaunted by the obstacles she faces – from a merciless government to a people so desperate and downtrodden they’ll do anything to survive. Powerfully and movingly written, The Disappeared is a tribute to a love of the purest and most sensual kind.

“A slender book of remembering, The Disappeared is unforgettable.” — Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger

Dalia Sofer
…spellbinding…There is something of Marguerite Duras in these pages, something of the lust between the young Western girl and the Asian man that drove novels like The Lover and The North China Lover. But while Duras focuses mostly on desire, Echlin focuses on absolute love—physical desire coupled with the need to know everything about the beloved, to follow him even to the grave and beyond…[an] exquisite novel.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Canadian novelist Echlin (Elephant Winter) derives a powerful, transcendent love story from the Cambodian genocide. Anne Greves, a motherless 16-year-old student, meets a Cambodian refugee, Serey, working as a math instructor amid the heady music scene of late-1970s Montreal, and they fall irredeemably in love. Serey's family got him out of Pol Pot's Cambodia, although he is waiting to be able to return and find them; Anne's father, a successful engineer of prosthetics, does not approve of Anne's exotic, older boyfriend, and when, as her father predicted, Serey leaves her, disappearing for 11 years, Anne journeys to Phnom Penh to find him. There she comes face to face with the terrible fallout of the collapsed Khmer Rouge dictatorship. The beautifully spare narrative is daringly imaginative in the details, drawing the reader deep inside the wounded capital city. Anne's single-mindedness drives the action, although her insistence on Western values of accountability knocks hollowly against the machinery of a ruthless military state. Echlin employs some implausible romance plotting and spoils the suspense early on, yet she creates a sorrowfully compelling world. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Across the smoky jazz club, Anne spots Serey, who has been glancing her way for most of the evening. Of course, Anne really shouldn't be in this Montreal nightspot, as she is only 16. Serey is a Cambodian student studying in Canada, having escaped his country during the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime. Anne's mother died when she was only two, and, while her father has done a good job of raising her, the love affair she strikes up with Serey tests their familial bonds. When the borders of Serey's country are reopened, the couple faces challenges, and Serey has to choose between his past and future. VERDICT The prose in this Canadian best seller by Echlin (Elephant Winter) is clear and direct. Readers who like foreign settings and historical and political overtones will appreciate this love story, which spans years and countries and is set in the not-too-distant past amid the horrific reign of Pol Pot. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]—Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH
From the Publisher

“Spellbinding . . . There is something of Marguerite Duras in these pages, something of the lust between the young Western girl and the Asian man that drove novels like The Lover and The North China Lover. But while Duras focuses mostly on desire, Echlin focuses on absolute love—physical desire coupled with the need to know everything about the beloved, to follow him even to the grave and beyond. . . . Echlin captures the beauty and horror of Cambodia in equal measure . . . [and] love and death pulsate through [her] pages, interlaced. . . . Exquisite . . . [Echlin] creates alchemy. She permits what has been unsaid to be said, and what has been nameless to be named at last.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

The Disappeared is a contemplation of horror, and a ferocious look at love. While all the ‘nameless missing’ of the Cambodian genocide gather around the characters like ghosts, the story also thrums with life, love, sensuality, tenderness and brutal pain. Echlin dares a hard look at the best and worst of humanity and pulls off this ambitious feat with elegance and heart.”—Zoë Ferraris, author of Finding Nouf

“This book, which deals forthrightly with man’s inhumanity to man, transcends its difficult subject matter by virtue of Echlin’s brilliant and beautiful prose, which tenderizes everything that it touches. The Disappeared is a unique, powerful, quietly devastating book, and a true and important love story.”—Peter Cameron, author of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

“This is a powerful and affecting novel, one that’s willing to consider the greatest devotion and the most terrible cruelty. At the center of The Disappeared is a truly penetrating and unforgettable understanding of the circumstances of genocide.”—John Dalton, author of Heaven Lake

“The beautifully spare narrative is daringly imaginative in the details. . . . Echlin creates a sorrowfully compelling world . . . [in this] powerful, transcendent love story.”—Publishers Weekly

“[A] poignant love story . . . Lush and poetic . . . The Disappeared is a passionate and emotionally wrenching novel that forces us to remember and provides witness to what was lost.”—BookPage.com

“Sensual . . . Electrifying . . . [The Disappeared] is a miracle of economy whose short sentences and ellipses often draw on the powerful brevity of short-story technique. . . . The voice is singular and arresting. . . . [Written with] insidious urgency . . . [and] in an aroused but taut and plain prose that attaches the intensities of erotic love to the smell, sight, taste and touch of human suffering . . . Through [her] technical and stylistic virtuosity, allied with elliptical narrative brilliance, Echlin raises Anne’s climactic ritual action to a level of tragic sublimity.”—Stevie Davies, The Guardian (UK)

“Finely chiseled prose . . . Undeniably beautiful . . . [With] moments of genuine tension and power.”—Tash Aw, Telegraph (UK)

“A dance of words . . . [full of] beauty, grace, sensuality and power. . . . In what is a seemingly impossible feat, the form is carved perfectly to the task—the book balances on the beauty. . . . Echlin is able, by imagination and art, to take the reader on a journey through eros and evil—a journey that travels into utter darkness but does not leave us in despair. . . . Echlin has wrought a work of singular beauty, a work which turns ‘human cruelty’ into the image of a particle of dust by a lover’s cheek, into the rhythm of the sentences that carry knowledge of the world so all may witness.”—The Chronicle Herald (Canada)

“Like her passionate narrator, Anne Greves, Echlin is not afraid to risk everything in this aching, heart-wrenching novel of young love aligned against human atrocity. In Anne’s decades-long search for her missing lover, we see how those touched by genocide take the darkness inside themselves, holding annihilation at bay only through the defiant refusal to forget. A slender book of remembering, The Disappeared is unforgettable.”—Sheri Holman, author of The Mammoth Cheese

“The familiar tale of star-crossed lovers is revisited with gripping immediacy and compelling freshness in Kim Echlin’s The Disappeared. Writing with sensuality, yearning, and in a voice readers will not soon forget, Ms. Echlin reminds us of the potency of our first loves, and of their enduring ability to shape and haunt us.”—Stephanie Kallos, author of Broken For You and Sing Them Home

“Echlin’s pristine prose . . . evokes the pull of eros as Anne searches for the man she loves in one of the world’s most dangerous places. But Echlin is equally skilled at portraying the effects of trauma on the human spirit. . . . The Disappeared goes to poetic lengths in order to come to grips with events too terrible to contemplate calmly . . . [and] I say thank you to writers who seek to open our eyes and minds.”—NOW magazine

“Luminous . . . [A] precise, expressive story . . . Erotic and spiritual . . . Echlin’s storytelling, shifting continents and years in a paragraph, gathers much of its pace and grace equally from her lyrical prose. . . . For all its brevity, The Disappeared still attends to the skulls and bones and slaughterhouses of Cambodia’s agony. . . . Emerging from [the] final pages is an act of love, and an image of horror, that elevates The Disappeared to a level of tragic intensity that it had been bound for from its opening sentences. To describe the act apart from its setting as the climax of a powerfully vivid narrative would be ruin its extreme beauty. . . . The book, which can be read in a single sitting, builds toward a complex expression of annihilating loss and eternal love that is best experienced, in a sense, like the final act of a tragic play: as something inevitable and beyond the calculations of reason.”—The Globe and Mail

“[An] engrossing literary novel . . . A beautiful elegy about two lovers who struggle to overcome the betrayal of their families and their fellow man.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“The impossibility of closure after great crimes, no matter how many tribunals and truth-and-reconciliation commissions we may launch, is the subject of Kim Echlin’s absorbing new novel, The Disappeared. Echlin, one of Canada’s finest prose stylists, approaches her subject with the delicacy and solemnity it deserves. . . . A beautiful work of art . . . The Disappeared takes its place with such other chronicles of female desire as Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept or Pauline Reage’s The Story of O, here yoked to a history that makes it both larger and more keen. . . . Echlin successfully links the void in Anne’s heart with the void left in the lives of millions of mothers, widows and children, as well as with the erasure of cultural memory that was not only the intent of the Khmer Rouge but wholly embraced by those who followed. . . . The Disappeared is an expert novel, which manages to penetrate to the aching core of the Cambodian tragedy. . . . Its heroine’s fell sexuality is a force for life not only in the extinguished world in which she finds herself but in the novel itself. The Disappeared presents desire as an antidote to despair. We may need one, if those who committed the crimes that make memorials like this one necessary continue to, all these years later, elude karma.”—National Post

“Remarkable . . . In a brief 228 pages, Echlin manages to juxtapose the horrific depravity of the Pol Pot era, and its brutal successor, against the power and resilience of individual human courage. . . . The Disappeared is written with singular elegance, a polished, poetic, deeply affecting novel from a writer in impressive control of her craft.”—London Free Press (Canada)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802197917
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/12/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
968,166
File size:
269 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Disappeared


By KIM ECHLIN

BLACK CAT

Copyright © 2009 Kim Echlin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8021-7066-8


Chapter One

Mau was a small man with a scar across his left cheek. I chose him at the Russian market from a crowd of drivers with soliciting eyes. They drove bicycles and tuk tuks, rickshaws and motos. A few had cars. They pushed in against me, trying to gain my eye, to separate me from the crowd.

The light in Mau's eyes was a pinprick through black paper. He assessed and calculated. I chose him because when he stepped forward, the others fell back. I told him it might take many nights. I told him I needed to go to all the nightclubs of Phnom Penh. The light of his eyes twisted into mine. When I told him what I was doing, the pinprick opened and closed over a fleeting compassion. Then he named his price, which was high, and said, I can help you, borng srei.

Bones work their way to the surface. Thirty years have passed since that day in the market in Phnom Penh. I still hear your voice. I first met you in old Montreal at L'air du temps, where I went to hear Buddy Guy sing "I Can't Quit the Blues." I was sixteen, and it was Halloween night. Charlotte and her friends did not wear costumes, but I used the occasion to disguise my age by putting on a shiny red eye mask decorated at the temples with yellow and purple feathers. My long kinked hair was loose and I wore a ribbed black sweater, my widest jeans, leather boots. As soon aswe were past the doorman, I pulled off my mask and I saw you looking at me. We took a round table close to the stage in the smoke-filled room. All through the first set I rolled cigarettes and passed them to the girls at my table and listened to Buddy Guy pleading the blues, eyebrows way up, eyes wide open, singing "Stone Crazy" and "No Lie," then squeezing his eyes shut he sang about homely-girl-love and begging-for-it-love, and I kept glancing over to see if you were looking at me.

I did not avoid your mud dark eyes. Between sets you stood, lifted your chair above your head and walked through the crowd toward me. You were slim and wiry and you wore a white T-shirt and faded jeans and your black hair was tied back at the nape of your neck. Your leather jacket was scuffed and your runners worn. You shifted sideways to let a tray go by and you said to the girls at my table, Can I join you? I brought my own seat.

The girls looked at each other and someone said yes and you put your chair in beside me, its back against the table. Charlotte said, You play in No Exit, I've seen you at the pub. What's your name?

Serey.

They poured you a beer from the pitcher and you talked in your soft voice to all of us. Asked, What are you studying? When you turned to me I had to say, I'm still in high school.

Charlotte said, I'm her Latin tutor. Her name is Anne Greves. You asked, Is Latin difficult? A girl across the table liked you and she said, I study Latin. You said you tutored math at the university. Said you'd seen them around, but not me.

Charlotte said, Her father teaches there and she doesn't want to be seen.

You smiled again and your front tooth had a half-moon chip and you said, Cool, in a strange accent of Quebec and English and something else I could not place.

The house lights went down. You leaned close and whispered, I want to touch your hair.

I did not say no or yes, but I felt the warm pressure of your palm against my skull. Then you put your elbows on the back of your chair.

You spoke with the mix of interest and inattention I was familiar with in men. Your excited eyes flickered to the stage, to the table you came from, to me. You wanted to know who was watching you. You wanted to see Buddy Guy and the horns and guitars up front. You wanted to watch me.

Years later you said, I remember watching you roll cigarettes with one hand. Fidgeting when the girls at your table talked. You seemed so free. I remember the light in your hair.

It was a time when young people from everywhere were driving Volkswagen buses through the mountains of Afghanistan and chanting in ashrams in India. But boys like you were not hippies or peaceniks or backpackers; colonized boys like you had always been sent abroad to study. You had been away for six years and you had learned to be at home in three languages, to navigate the manners and peculiarities of the West. Your education was mathematics and rock music. You knew functions and relations and your musician friends sang against war and had love-ins for peace. It was a time when young people believed the world could be borderless, like music. All this was naive, looking back. You were five years older, and you spoke a language I had never heard. And there was that animal feeling, the smell of your leather jacket, the quiver in my stomach, Buddy Guy's voice and your breath on my ear.

Years later you said, Do you remember in those days, the shock of an Asian guy with a white girl, or a black with white, or a French with English, all of us pretending nothing was forbidden? I never had the courage to ask a white girl until you, that night at L'air du temps.

Buddy Guy walked out for the last set in a green jacket that he took off while he played, hammering and pulling and bending strings with his left hand as he shook the right arm free, his right-hand fingers plucking and picking so he could shake off the left sleeve. His jacket fell to the floor and he grinned out at us when we clapped at his clowning. His mother had died that year and he said he was going to get a polka dot guitar in her honor but he did not have it yet. He played sounds he had heard other places and other times, horns and fiddles, concocting a New Orleans gumbo, a little of this, a little of that, paying homage to Muddy and B.B. and Junior. And then he got down to his own work. He sang about Lord-have-mercy-blues in "One Room Country Shack" and impatient love in "Just Playing My Axe," and with that great big charming smile he sang "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and about asking for a nickel from an angel and about strange feelings and broken hearts and, with a shake of his head, about women he could not please but we all knew he could please anyone, and I wished the lights would never come up. You put your muscled arm around my shoulder and pulled me close and you asked in a soft, soft voice, Can I take you home? A few people were dancing on the sides and you took my hand and pulled me up to dance too and you could sway at the hips but you had this way of moving your hands that was not rock and roll and not the blues but a small graceful bend backward in your wrist at the end of a beat.

Charlotte and the girls at my table were putting on their coats, pulling bags over their shoulders, flipping their long hair from inside warm collars like shirts flapping on a clothesline, and I said to them, See you.

We walked north on cobbled streets through the chill autumn air. You said, Would you like to come and see my band?

Maybe, I said. Where do you come from?

Cambodia.

Halloween revelers passed us, laughing and calling to each other in joual, hurrying through the darkness wrapped in black capes and devil masks and angel wings. Cambodia? I pulled my eye mask down.

You touched the feathers and said, Anne Greves, I like it here. Things are unimaginably free here.

I knew from that first walk home.

Outside my father's apartment on l'avenue du Parc I turned to face you and drew you under the iron staircase. You put your lips on my lips and I remember your eyes through the holes in my mask and the touch of your hand against my skull. You pulled me to you and I felt the first touch your fingers on my skin. Through the gratings on the stairs I sensed the movement of a neighbor boy with his Halloween basket, staring at us from the shadows, chewing on a candy-kiss. I caught his eye and said, Jean Michel, pourquoi tu n'es pas au lit? Then I looked at you and said, O malheureux mortels! O terre déplorable! You laughed and released me, said, I want the whole world to see, and reached your hand up as if you were going to steal the boy's candy. Then we joined the child on the steps and you took a piece of string from your pocket and showed him a trick. There we were, an exile, a small boy and a girl-almost-woman, together in the darkness. I still hear your voice singing Buddy Guy's "I Found a True Love," and I remember how we sat that night and watched the clouds roll in across the moon.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Disappeared by KIM ECHLIN Copyright © 2009 by Kim Echlin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Spellbinding . . . There is something of Marguerite Duras in these pages, something of the lust between the young Western girl and the Asian man that drove novels like The Lover and The North China Lover. But while Duras focuses mostly on desire, Echlin focuses on absolute love—physical desire coupled with the need to know everything about the beloved, to follow him even to the grave and beyond. . . . Echlin captures the beauty and horror of Cambodia in equal measure . . . [and] love and death pulsate through [her] pages, interlaced. . . . Exquisite . . . [Echlin] creates alchemy. She permits what has been unsaid to be said, and what has been nameless to be named at last.”—The New York Times Book Review

The Disappeared is a contemplation of horror, and a ferocious look at love. While all the ‘nameless missing’ of the Cambodian genocide gather around the characters like ghosts, the story also thrums with life, love, sensuality, tenderness and brutal pain. Echlin dares a hard look at the best and worst of humanity and pulls off this ambitious feat with elegance and heart.”—Zoë Ferraris, author of Finding Nouf

“This book, which deals forthrightly with man’s inhumanity to man, transcends its difficult subject matter by virtue of Echlin’s brilliant and beautiful prose, which tenderizes everything that it touches. The Disappeared is a unique, powerful, quietly devastating book, and a true and important love story.”—Peter Cameron, author of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

“This is a powerful and affecting novel, one that’s willing to consider the greatest devotion and the most terrible cruelty. At the center of The Disappeared is a truly penetrating and unforgettable understanding of the circumstances of genocide.”—John Dalton, author of Heaven Lake

“The beautifully spare narrative is daringly imaginative in the details. . . . Echlin creates a sorrowfully compelling world . . . [in this] powerful, transcendent love story.”—Publishers Weekly

“[A] poignant love story . . . Lush and poetic . . . The Disappeared is a passionate and emotionally wrenching novel that forces us to remember and provides witness to what was lost.”—BookPage.com

“Sensual . . . Electrifying . . . [The Disappeared] is a miracle of economy whose short sentences and ellipses often draw on the powerful brevity of short-story technique. . . . The voice is singular and arresting. . . . [Written with] insidious urgency . . . [and] in an aroused but taut and plain prose that attaches the intensities of erotic love to the smell, sight, taste and touch of human suffering . . . Through [her] technical and stylistic virtuosity, allied with elliptical narrative brilliance, Echlin raises Anne’s climactic ritual action to a level of tragic sublimity.”—Stevie Davies, The Guardian (UK)

“Finely chiseled prose . . . Undeniably beautiful . . . [With] moments of genuine tension and power.”—Tash Aw, Telegraph (UK)

“A dance of words . . . [full of] beauty, grace, sensuality and power. . . . In what is a seemingly impossible feat, the form is carved perfectly to the task—the book balances on the beauty. . . . Echlin is able, by imagination and art, to take the reader on a journey through eros and evil—a journey that travels into utter darkness but does not leave us in despair. . . . Echlin has wrought a work of singular beauty, a work which turns ‘human cruelty’ into the image of a particle of dust by a lover’s cheek, into the rhythm of the sentences that carry knowledge of the world so all may witness.”—The Chronicle Herald (Canada)

“Like her passionate narrator, Anne Greves, Echlin is not afraid to risk everything in this aching, heart-wrenching novel of young love aligned against human atrocity. In Anne’s decades-long search for her missing lover, we see how those touched by genocide take the darkness inside themselves, holding annihilation at bay only through the defiant refusal to forget. A slender book of remembering, The Disappeared is unforgettable.”—Sheri Holman, author of The Mammoth Cheese

“The familiar tale of star-crossed lovers is revisited with gripping immediacy and compelling freshness in Kim Echlin’s The Disappeared. Writing with sensuality, yearning, and in a voice readers will not soon forget, Ms. Echlin reminds us of the potency of our first loves, and of their enduring ability to shape and haunt us.”—Stephanie Kallos, author of Broken For You and Sing Them Home

“Echlin’s pristine prose . . . evokes the pull of eros as Anne searches for the man she loves in one of the world’s most dangerous places. But Echlin is equally skilled at portraying the effects of trauma on the human spirit. . . . The Disappeared goes to poetic lengths in order to come to grips with events too terrible to contemplate calmly . . . [and] I say thank you to writers who seek to open our eyes and minds.”—NOW magazine

“Luminous . . . [A] precise, expressive story . . . Erotic and spiritual . . . Echlin’s storytelling, shifting continents and years in a paragraph, gathers much of its pace and grace equally from her lyrical prose. . . . For all its brevity, The Disappeared still attends to the skulls and bones and slaughterhouses of Cambodia’s agony. . . . Emerging from [the] final pages is an act of love, and an image of horror, that elevates The Disappeared to a level of tragic intensity that it had been bound for from its opening sentences. To describe the act apart from its setting as the climax of a powerfully vivid narrative would be ruin its extreme beauty. . . . The book, which can be read in a single sitting, builds toward a complex expression of annihilating loss and eternal love that is best experienced, in a sense, like the final act of a tragic play: as something inevitable and beyond the calculations of reason.”—The Globe and Mail

“[An] engrossing literary novel . . . A beautiful elegy about two lovers who struggle to overcome the betrayal of their families and their fellow man.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“The impossibility of closure after great crimes, no matter how many tribunals and truth-and-reconciliation commissions we may launch, is the subject of Kim Echlin’s absorbing new novel, The Disappeared. Echlin, one of Canada’s finest prose stylists, approaches her subject with the delicacy and solemnity it deserves. . . . A beautiful work of art . . . The Disappeared takes its place with such other chronicles of female desire as Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept or Pauline Reage’s The Story of O, here yoked to a history that makes it both larger and more keen. . . . Echlin successfully links the void in Anne’s heart with the void left in the lives of millions of mothers, widows and children, as well as with the erasure of cultural memory that was not only the intent of the Khmer Rouge but wholly embraced by those who followed. . . . The Disappeared is an expert novel, which manages to penetrate to the aching core of the Cambodian tragedy. . . . Its heroine’s fell sexuality is a force for life not only in the extinguished world in which she finds herself but in the novel itself. The Disappeared presents desire as an antidote to despair. We may need one, if those who committed the crimes that make memorials like this one necessary continue to, all these years later, elude karma.”—National Post

“Remarkable . . . In a brief 228 pages, Echlin manages to juxtapose the horrific depravity of the Pol Pot era, and its brutal successor, against the power and resilience of individual human courage. . . . The Disappeared is written with singular elegance, a polished, poetic, deeply affecting novel from a writer in impressive control of her craft.”—London Free Press (Canada)

Meet the Author

Kim Echlin is the author of Dagmar's Daughter and Elephant Winter, which won the Torgi Talking Book of the Year Award and was short-listed for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award. She lives in Toronto.

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The Disappeared 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Northwest_Judy More than 1 year ago
Kim Echlin uses an unique and beautiful writing style, one that takes you through the narrative in memories and wisps, rather than holding your hand. Her use of hindsight, in small clues, is well done. I read this after finishing Sarah's Key, and the plot and message struck me as very similar; as a reader you feel jarred with historical information that you should have been more aware of. Echlin's portrayal of the main characters is interesting, as you don't get a huge sense of them outside of their great love, and it works.
lhutch More than 1 year ago
This book was beautifully written with almost a poetic style. The characters are real and you cannot help but have empathy for their lives and what they deal with. I'm old enough to remember the slaughter in Cambodia after the VietNam war and if graphic violence is something you don't want to read, then I would not recommend this story. Making it even more difficult, is that you know the violence is not pretend and just part of the story. These terrible things happened to real people. Despite this, I think the love story remains the main focus and it was such a lovely story, I plowed thru the violence. In fairness to the author, given the time in history that this story took place, there is no way the violence could have been left out.
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The person I gave this book to as a gift thoroughly enjoyed it - read it in one afternoon!
LaLa1831 More than 1 year ago
I found this book difficult to get into, even though the overarching premise was interesting. I appreciated the author's writing style, but did not feel at all attached to the main character. I do think this book would lead to interesting book club discussions, as well as character dissections.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I ENJOYED THIS BOOK, KEPT ME INTERESTED. I DO NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE CAMBODIAN PEOPLE OR WHAT HAPPENED DURING THAT WAR, THE EFFECTS ON ITS PEOPLE LIKE ALL WARS IS VERY SAD. THE MORE WE KNOW THE BETTER WE UNDERSTAND.
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