Shadow Giller juror Trevor Berrett has now passed the shortlist halfway mark. Here are the opening paragraphs (find the full review here) to his excellent review of Kim Echlin’s The Disappeared:
The Killing Fields of Cambodia, the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, have been covered before, particularly by the courageous Dith Pran, who died last year. I knew going in to The Disappeared (2009) that the book could not be as affecting as the journalistic accounts. Yet, there’s something haunting and reverent about the cover that compelled me and gave me hope. I hoped like mad that the book could be as haunting and, knowing the topic, especially as reverent. In the end, despite a few flaws, the book greatly exceeded my expectations.
Our narrator is Anne Greves, a Canadian who, in her youth (she was only sixteen), fell in undying love with the passionate musician Serey, a Cambodian exile to Montreal. With only minor clunkiness that we get over soon enough, we come to know that Anne is writing this book to Serey as an attempt to take account of their past:
“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 [. . .]”
And you can find my earlier review of The Disappeared here. I would say that Trevor and I agree that while it is not a perfect book it is a very good one.