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First They Killed My Father


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Soon to be a major film, an unforgettable narrative of war crimes and desperate actions from a childhood survivor of Cambodia's brutal Pol Pot regime

About the Author

Loung Ung's debut memoir, First They Killed My Father, was an international bestseller. It is now being made into a film which will be co-written and directed by Angelina Jolie Pitt. Loung Ung is also the author of After They Killed Our Father: A refugee from the killing fields reunites with the sister she left behind. As an author, lecturer, and activist, she has dedicated twenty years to promoting equality, human rights, and justice in her native land and worldwide. She has lectured widely to schools, universities and corporations on Cambodia, child soldiers, women and war, and landmines. She currently lives in the US.


"Thus began/ my Erotikon--thus, my book of books, round-robin encyclical,/ round-the-head and round-the-corner, memorabilia/ of mobs and rabble, corraling coral with carols...." Mitchell's first collection since 1992's NBA finalist Rapture fuses eros and iconic lyric imagery into an alloy of poetic excess. With copious allusions (and copious notes) to such books as Frazer's The Golden Bough, Mitchell makes labored use of textual fragments, whether weaving a seven-part poem in seven seven-line stanzas ("Bird: A Memoir") or collaging her title poem into "a grand slam of sound." Many of the poems seem heavy with undigested Jorie Graham-like notions and movements, particularly those that point to their own well-worn methodology as if it were the first wheel: "It's not a question/ of what's true or not true, it's more/ a matter of what I want to hear." The speaker asks to be spared "the long slow walk of recitative" in favor of more operatic gestures, "the way notes// cluster in a difficult passage, the dotted/ sixteenths sugaring off, almost cloying, the ink/ crossed and recrossed, written/ over." Indeed, desire is equated with speed, "striding toward faster and faster tempos" as the images within poem after poem collide with one another like a sort of blenderized National Arts Club. Some will find Mitchell's diction thrillingly decadent, while others will find the over-the-top alliteration, stock high-art figures and mannered frisson tiresome. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

YA-Ung was a headstrong, clever child who was a delight to her father, a high-ranking government official in Phnom Penh. She was only five when the Khmer Rouge stormed the city and her family was forced to flee. They sought refuge in various camps, hiding their wealth and education, always on the move and ever fearful of being betrayed. After 20 months, Ung's father was taken away, never to be seen again. Her story of starvation, forced labor, beatings, attempted rape, separations, and the deaths of her family members is one of horror and brutality. The first-person account of Cambodia under the reign of Pol Pot will be read not only for research papers but also as a tribute to a human spirit that never gave up. YAs will applaud Ung's courage and strength.-Katherine Fitch, Rachel Carson Middle School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

The 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner recalls Cambodia's killing fields. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

So sharp with pain that when I read it, the words plunged into me like a knife -- Jon Swain * Sunday Times *
There can be absolutely no doubt about the innate power of [Ung's] story, the passion with which she tells it or its enduring importance * Washington Post Book World *
Ung's memoir should serve as a reminder that some history is best not left just to historians but to those left behind when the terror ends * Booklist *
I was deeply affected by Loung's book. It deepened my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it * Angelina Jolie Pitt *

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