×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Years of Zero: Coming of Age Under the Khmer Rouge
     

The Years of Zero: Coming of Age Under the Khmer Rouge

by Seng Ty
 

See All Formats & Editions

The Years of Zero-Coming of Age Under the Khmer Rouge is a survivor's account of the Cambodian genocide carried out by Pol Pot's sadistic and terrifying Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. It follows the author, Seng Ty, from the age of seven as he is plucked from his comfortable, middle-class home in a Phnom Penh suburb, marched along a blistering, black strip of

Overview

The Years of Zero-Coming of Age Under the Khmer Rouge is a survivor's account of the Cambodian genocide carried out by Pol Pot's sadistic and terrifying Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. It follows the author, Seng Ty, from the age of seven as he is plucked from his comfortable, middle-class home in a Phnom Penh suburb, marched along a blistering, black strip of highway into the jungle, and thrust headlong into the unspeakable barbarities of an agricultural labor camp.

Seng's mother was worked to death while his siblings succumbed to starvation. His oldest brother was brought back from France and tortured in the secret prison of Tuol Sleng. His family's only survivor and a mere child, Seng was forced to fend for himself, navigating the brainwashing campaigns and random depravities of the Khmer Rouge, determined to survive so he could bear witness to what happened in the camp.

The Years of Zero guides the reader through the author's long, desperate periods of harrowing darkness, each chapter a painting of cruelty, caprice, and courage. It follows Seng as he sneaks mice and other living food from the rice paddies where he labors, knowing that the penalty for such defiance is death. It tracks him as he tries to escape into the jungle, only to be dragged back to his camp and severely beaten. Through it all, Seng finds a way to remain whole both in body and in mind. He rallies past torture, betrayal, disease and despair, refusing at every juncture to surrender to the murderers who have stolen everything he had.

As The Years of Zero concludes, the reader will have lived what Seng lived, risked what he risked, endured what he endured, and finally celebrate with him his unlikeliest of triumphs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/19/2015
With remarkable passion and courage, Ty, a survivor of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, recounts the pastoral days of his middle-class Cambodian childhood, under the loving care of his physician father and devoted mother before a time of widespread destruction and death. The author does not mince words when he lists a series of heart-stopping tragedies beginning with his father’s death at the hands of the sadistic Pol Pot’s soldiers, his mother’s haunting demise from starvation in a labor camp, and his eldest brother’s fatal torture in a secret prison. There were brutal mass killings throughout the stark landscape, and Ty writes of the constant surveillance by fellow citizens and the regime, his lone-survivor existence running just one step ahead of death, until he found the welcoming shelter of a Thai refugee camp. The book is a stunning tribute to Ty’s resilience and determination, qualities that help him emerge from the experience somewhat whole—he would eventually be featured in a Time magazine article, adopted by a middle-class family in Amherst, Mass., and given a chance to live the American dream. With equal measures of humor and menace, Ty’s chronicle of endurance and flexibility allows us to cry and cheer for a war orphan who refused to quit life. (BookLife)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-03
A survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime tells his story.In his debut memoir, Ty recounts his childhood in Cambodia. The youngest child in a middle-class doctor's family, Ty was 7 when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. His family was among the thousands relocated to rural villages, where they were forced to renounce their Westernized habits and remake themselves as agricultural laborers, always under the threat of reprisals from their guards. Ty vividly describes the horrors of the Khmer Rouge violence, but his tone is almost matter-of-fact, swaying the reader through brutal facts more than wrenching emotions: "The Khmer Rouge would have been treated as backward peasants, as children from the jungle who had never known city life, except for one thing; they had guns." Although the family fought to survive—taking risks to steal extra food, avoiding the guards' notice—Ty ended up an orphan. His father was murdered, and his mother died of malnutrition. He was separated from his older siblings—he later learned that several of them were also killed—and survived by himself, relying on intelligence, determination and a belief that his mother's spirit was protecting him. Ty eventually made his way to the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp in Thailand, where American journalist Roger Rosenblatt featured him in an article in Time magazine. (Rosenblatt, who has remained in contact with Ty, writes the book's introduction.) Ty's eloquent description of his experience drew attention when the article was published in the United States. It inspired a woman named Marlena Brown to help settle Cambodian orphans in the United States. The Brown family adopted Ty, who writes compellingly of the cultural confusion and periods of adjustment that shaped his new life. His discomfort with indoor plumbing may bring a smile to the reader's face, but when a camping vacation reminds him of his family's jungle ordeal, the reader remembers how much he has endured.An engaging, open memoir of one child's wartime experiences.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781492286738
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
02/14/2014
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
875,786
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

SENG TY was born in the Kampong Speu province of Cambodia, the son of a respected physician who taught him to value life, aspire to humility, and seek the good in people. He was thirteen when he made his way alone to a refugee camp in Thailand in 1981. His story was featured in TIME Magazine's article "Children of War", and was read by an American family in Amherst, Massachusetts, who adopted him a year later. Now he is a citizen of the United States, a husband, a father and an educator in the Lowell, MA School System.

Seng will never rid himself of his ghosts, nor will he forget the blood-chilling atrocities he has witnessed and experienced. However, he doesn't crave revenge against those who carried out these atrocities. He desires to share his story of survival and courage only in order to give hope to others. He was one of the children of war tour in the US cities in early 1984, he shared his story through Phil Donahue Show, many major newspapers and CBS 60 Minutes in 1999.

Seng's wish is that The Years of Zero will give him a platform to expand his message beyond the circle of his students in Lowell, to people all over the world who are in need of a little hope.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews