In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

by Vaddey Ratner
4.4 75

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In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel by Vaddey Ratner

A beautiful celebration of the power of hope, this New York Times bestselling novel tells the story of a girl who comes of age during the Cambodian genocide.

You are about to read an extraordinary story, a PEN Hemingway Award finalist “rich with history, mythology, folklore, language and emotion.” It will take you to the very depths of despair and show you unspeakable horrors. It will reveal a gorgeously rich culture struggling to survive through a furtive bow, a hidden ankle bracelet, fragments of remembered poetry. It will ensure that the world never forgets the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime in the Cambodian killing fields between 1975 and 1979, when an estimated two million people lost their lives. It will give you hope, and it will confirm the power of storytelling to lift us up and help us not only survive but transcend suffering, cruelty, and loss.

For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours, bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as the Khmer Rouge attempts to strip the population of every shred of individual identity, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of her childhood—the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. Displaying the author’s extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451657722
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/07/2012
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 52,240
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Vaddey Ratner is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Her critically acclaimed bestselling debut novel, In the Shadow of the Banyan, was a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and has been translated into seventeen languages. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Cornell University, where she specialized in Southeast Asian history and literature. Her most recent novel is Music of the Ghosts.

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In the Shadow of the Banyan 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel was recommended to me and I thought I would continue the favor. This is a fast, easy read, told by the perspective of a little girl who lived through the Cambodian Civil War and the Khmer Rouge. I didn't know much about this time in Cambodia and the narrative is written so well you feel like you are there. Throughout the novel there are many references to Cambodia stories/poems that paint a beautiful picture of Cambodian culture. I would recommend this and I am glad to have read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. Beautifully written. I slowed down my reading to take in every word. I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed.
Jen_Austen More than 1 year ago
This novel is a work of the heart. It is Vaddey Ratner's chance to put meaning to the lives of those she lost. She is bringing them back through her words so that others may know that they once existed on this Earth. This novel brings to life a period of history that I never fully understood before reading her book. I knew about the "killing fields" and I knew that Pol Pot was a very very bad man but I did not know the details of what occurred in Cambodia during the late 1970′s. In the Shadow of the Banyan, brings the horror and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge into the light of day. While a heavy focus of the novel is the day to day life of under the Khmer Rouge, the stars of this novel truly are the Cambodian people who fought to survive and to hold on to those they loved whether in the flesh or in memory. This is Vaddey Ratner's debut novel. It is an amazing debut! Although all of the main events in the story that happen to Raami also happened to Vaddey, she chose to write it as fiction rather then non-fiction so that she could more easily tie events together and fill in the gaps of memory that would be expected after so long a time. I am grateful that she put her experiences out as fiction because I think she will reach more people through fiction. I was a young child during the period covered in this book yet I knew very little of the piece of history. As I read In the Shadow of the Banyan, I found myself constantly going to Google to search for more information on this time period, filling in my own gaps of knowledge. I recommend that you read this book. I also recommend that you read it with a tissue box within your reach. As Chris Cleave, the author of Little Bee, said this truly is a novel that is "heartbreaking and impossibly beautiful" at the same time. It feels weird to say a novel is beautiful when it is about such a seriously sad subject, but this novel is beautiful. Read this book!
Bonnfires More than 1 year ago
Think of war-torn 1970's Cambodia. Based on true experiences of an upper class family, forced from their Phnom Penh palace to live in crowded, makeshift housing and slave in countryside rice paddies. Revolutionary Soldiers seize the "Tiger Prince" father, a famous poet, leaving the mourning wife and two daughters to confront famine, disease, monsoons, pestilence, and loss of self-worth. Amid these hardships, there is much beauty and knowledge found in the lush landscapes, views of the night sky, and kindnesses of the rural people. Written from the daughter's viewpoint, these pages contain hope, resilience, and determination to seek a fulfilling life, thanks to teachings of her beloved father, who never fades from memory.
DubaiReader1 More than 1 year ago
Moving. I was part way through this book (on Kindle - no back cover to read) before I realised that it was semi-autobiographical. Knowing this made it so much more powerful. It is a story of amazing courage and determination to live. The author was only 5 years old in 1975, when the change in regime that resulted in the atrocities of the Killing Fields of Cambodia, occurred. The narrator of this novel is seven at the start. She is from a wealthy family, related to the King, and has never known any hardship. As news filters through of the Khmer Rouge's uprising in the town, the adults realise that their lives could be changed as a result, but no one could have had any inkling of the serious nature of this change. The 'Organisation's' method of control was to instil fear and panic, separating family groups and forcing everyone to work at a punishing rate, on megre rations. All this is recorded historically, but the strength of this book was the incidious way that things seemed to get gradually worse and worse, along with the telling of events with the naiivity of a seven year old. For someone who didn't speak a word of English until she was eleven years old, Vaddey Ratner's descriptions are wonderful: "...the whole house was hot and stuffy, like the inside of a balloon." and "Pok looked at me. Silence seemed to have overtaken him again. Then his face broke open like the morning sun." There is an author's note at the back of the book, explaining how she came to write it and how difficult it was to relive these events. I sincerely hope it was theraputic for her. An excellent, if harrowing, read. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read in a long time. The character and story stayed with me long after reading the book. This is one of those books you wish didn't end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I have not completed the book yet, I was instantly drawn in to the story by the descriptive writing. The characters have a very real feel to them and I am eager to read more! I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written book, each word to be savored.It lets the reader see into a world that is hard to fathom, beautiful but heart breaking. I did not want this book to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this novel by Vaddey Ratner. It was extremely well written and although it is told from the perspective of a child, it is full of meaningful insight. I really didn't know much about the Cambodian Revolution before starting this novel but Ratner does an exceptional job of weaving true historical details into her semi-autobiographical novel. The author's notes at the end of the book were definitely worth reading as well. I would recommend this novel very highly!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
interesting subject and very good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book introduces the reader to the class distinctions in what was Cambodia and also the character of the peaceful masses. The revolution was frightening even to the reader. I can see why the narrator wanted to write to honor her parents and family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a dark time yet the writing is almost poetical. Quite a story told to the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I realize the author spent alot of time and effort, however, as an historical account of Cambodia's Kymer Rouge period, it leaves the horror out in this emotional second hand story from an eight year old's perspective. Recommended for young people, as the bloody parts are absent and only hinted.
Barb82 More than 1 year ago
Information I never knew. Shocking story of what the people went through. Told beautifully.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always knew the history of Cambodia and the Khemer Rouge was sad but the story of this family was so amazing. I could not stop reading and even though I knew this was fiction I felt as though it was happening right in front of me. Beautifully written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is both amazing and heartbreaking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a moving story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fee2 More than 1 year ago
I love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MWgal More than 1 year ago
one of the most beautifully books ever written and dealing with subjects as grief and loss. I still wonder how this was possible with such pain as Ms. Ratner experienced. Thanks to her for sharing her gift of lyrical talent.
BiblioChic More than 1 year ago
I was expecting this book to leave me depressed, but it didn't. The writer's style and storytelling was excellent, and she had quite a story to tell. She somehow used the very bad, very sad experiences of her life to illustrate the good in humanity. I am in awe of anyone who can live through such horrible things and still have a positive outlook on life and people. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about this period in Cambodia or who enjoys a good story.
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