Out of the Shadows of Angkor is a groundbreaking collection of prose, poetry, performance pieces, and visual art that emerges from a thirty-year effort of five guest editors to gather and champion Cambodian literary and cultural works.
In the nearly 400-page MĀNOA volume, this anthology features rare works translated into English for the first time, and has also helped to rescue writing lost during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975–1979). Beautifully designed, Out of the Shadows of Angkor is an outstanding selection of Cambodian writing from the past and present.
Out of the Shadow of Angkor also features the stunning paintings of Theanly Chov from his Surviving series, which capture the future-forward dreams of many Cambodians today.
Guest editors: Sharon May, Christophe Macquet, Trent Walker, Phina So, Rinith Taing
Series editor: Frank Stewart
Editor Q&A: Cambodian Writing Through the Ages
“Cambodian writers have been recording their literary gifts for over a millennium and a half. Yet very little Cambodian literature originally composed in Khmer, Sanskrit, or French is available in English. Our anthology seeks to change that,” say guest editors Trent Walker and Sharon May. In this Q&A, Walker and May tell us how this book came together.
Out of the Shadows of Angkor in Your Classroom
Educators considering teaching from this landmark collection may have students from Cambodia or Southeast Asia and its diasporas, or students in a global literature course. The works in Out of the Shadows of Angkor may either stand alone or be read alongside other works of literature from the region of Southeast Asia.
The University of Hawai‘i Press offers examination copies upon request, as well as complimentary desk copies for educators who order 10 or more copies for their classrooms.
Editors Sharon May and Trent Walker on Out of the Shadows of Angkor, the newest title from Mānoa journal, that publishes this month.
Out of the Shadows of Angkor, the newest title from MĀNOA, emerges from the thirty-year effort of a community seeking to bring together Khmer works of literature. In doing so, they not only translated rare works into English for the first time, but also helped to salvage, reconstruct, and resuscitate parts of books destroyed by the Cambodian Civil War. This issue represents a selection of what has been achieved.
Readers will find in this volume: a comprehensive range of Khmer works over 1400 years; translations of classical texts in ancient script; selections of modern Cambodian poetry, prose, and folk theater; and contemporary writings by Cambodian refugees and children of the diaspora living in countries from Australia to the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This is a companion volume to In the Shadow of Angkor(2004).
Below, guest editors Trent Walker and Sharon May tell us about how this book came together.
University of Hawai‘i Press: What was the inspiration for this issue?
Trent Walker and Sharon May, Editors: Cambodian writers have been recording their literary gifts for over a millennium and a half. Yet very little Cambodian literature originally composed in Khmer, Sanskrit, or French is available in English. Our anthology seeks to change that by joining a plethora of original literary translations of Cambodian texts with works composed in English by members of the global Cambodian diaspora.
UHP: What is the book essentially about?
Editors: Out of the Shadows of Angkor unites the work of 33 different authors across fourteen centuries of Cambodian history. Their poems, short stories, novels, and essays are paired with a range of anonymous texts from the seventh century to the present, including inscriptions, oaths, chants, songs, epics, folk tales, and theater. Nineteen different translators make these works shine in English, offering accessible notes that frame these Cambodian compositions for a wide audience. A special emphasis on twentieth- and twenty-first-century writers, including those across four continents of the diaspora, showcases the present and emerging future of post-Khmer Rouge literature both inside and outside Cambodia.
UHP: Who was involved, and what was the process like of putting it together?
Editors: Sharon May, guest editor of In the Shadow of Angkor, a smaller but path-breaking 2004 anthology of contemporary Cambodian literature published by MĀNOA and University of Hawai‘i Press, brought together a team of four fellow guest editors over the course of over a decade. The guest editors—Phina So, Rinith Taing, Christophe Macquet, and Trent Walker, along with Sharon—have each long been leaders in advocating for Cambodian writers, literature, and publishing. We relied on each other’s strengths and on wide networks of literary friendships in Cambodia and beyond to bring the project to completion.
UHP: Tell us about the title. What’s the story of how you came to this title?
Editors: The title of the first volume, In the Shadows of Angkor,arose when Sharon was brainstorming with her friend Bhavia Wagner; Cambodian literature has long been in the shadows of the great temples and the tragedies of war, at least in the eyes of the West. As a considerably larger, non-overlapping companion volume to that 2004. MĀNOA anthology, Out of the Shadows of Angkor celebrates Cambodian poetry, prose, and performance emerging onto the world stage. Outside of the Khmer diaspora, Anglophone readers are still likely to only know Cambodia for the horrors of the Khmer Rouge or the splendors of Angkor Wat. Our book presents for the first time in English the vast spectrum of Cambodian writing through the ages—by turns joyous and tragic, pithy and elegant, tender and whip-smart.
UHP: What are some highlights of the issue? What should readers not miss?
Editors: The foreword by Vaddey Ratner and a special preface on Cambodian American writers by Sokunthary Svay set the tone for the book. Indradevi’s “In Praise of Sister Queens,” one of the oldest known works by a female author in Southeast Asia, and Brah Rajasambhar’s sixteenth-century poem, “My Soul of Gold,” long thought lost, anchor the classical section. Khun Srun’s “A Small Request” as well as excerpts from his novel The Accused cement his reputation as one of most insightful writers from the 1960s and ‘70s. Extracts from works by Nou Hach, Soth Polin, and Ty Chi Huot showcase the treasures of modern Khmer fiction. Poets ranging from Chey Chap and Pich Tum Kravel in Cambodia to Prince Amrindo Sisowath and Khau Ny Kim in France are also featured. Diasporic voices shine throughout: Maria Hach’s brilliant essay, “An Archive of Haunting,” especially in conversation with pieces by Boreth Ly and Elizabeth Chey, reveals powerful connections linking war, memory, and the arts. In the closing section on performance, the genius of Kong Nay, the country’s most famous living bard, comes to life through an extended interview as well as his bawdy lullaby, “An Elephant Rocks Its Trunk.” Throughout the issue, don’t miss the stunning paintings of Theanly Chov from his Survivingseries, which capture the future-forward dreams of many Cambodians today.
UHP: Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
In addition to classical Cambodian literature that has never before been translated into English, this book presents writing that was nearly lost during Cambodia’s civil war, the Khmer Rouge regime, and its aftermath. When Sharon first began work on the previous volume, In the Shadow of Angkor, an American journalist told her, “Cambodians can’t write.” We hope that this new volume, Out of the Shadows of Angkor, shows that they most certainly can, and have done so for centuries with humor, wisdom, beauty, and depth.
Trent Walker is a postdoctoral fellow of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University and a specialist in the manuscripts and chanting practices of mainland Southeast Asia.
Sharon Mayworked for Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights—living and working in Cambodia while researching the Khmer Rouge regime—and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University.
Potent Landscapes: Place and Mobility in Eastern Indonesia, by Catherine Allerton, is an ethnographic investigation of the power of the landscape and the implications of that power for human needs, behavior, and emotions. Based on two years of fieldwork in rural Flores, the book situates place-making and mobility of the Manggarai within the larger contexts of diverse human-environment interactions as well as adat revival in postcolonial Indonesia. Although it focuses on social life in one region of eastern Indonesia, the work engages with broader theoretical discussions of landscape, travel, materiality, cultural politics, kinship, and animism.
“Potent Landscapes is a brilliant new work that breaks fresh ground in the anthropological study of place and culture in Southeast Asia. Bringing a phenomenological interest in ‘dwelling’ to her ethnographic portrayal of everyday life in the southern Manggarai settlements of West Flores, Indonesia, Catherine Allerton takes readers on a revealing and richly rewarding journey into the ‘shape of the land’ there. Her book offers a wealth of ideas and comparative material for scholars working in other parts of Asia and the Pacific, and an accessible account sure to fascinate and inspire students of anthropology.” —Kenneth M. George, University of Wisconsin-Madison
April 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3800-3 / $25.00 (PAPER)
In a village community in the highlands of Cambodia’s Southwest, people struggle to rebuild their lives after nearly thirty years of war and genocide. Recovery is a tenuous process as villagers attempt to shape a future while contending with the terrible rupture of the Pol Pot era. Forest of Struggle: Moralities of Remembrance in Upland Cambodia, by Eve Monique Zucker, tracks the fragile progress of restoring the bonds of community in O’Thmaa and its environs, the site of a Khmer Rouge base and battlefield for nearly three decades between 1970 and 1998.
“With an ethnographer’s acumen, Zucker shows us how the members of a community in post-conflict Cambodia have sought to rebuild their lives, a process involving complicated issues of trust, social memory, and moral order. Forest of Struggle is a must-read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of social suffering and the remaking of social worlds after prolonged conflict and genocide.” —Alexander Hinton, Rutgers University
April 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3805-8 / $28.00 (PAPER)
Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity, edited by Joshua Baker, Erik Harms, and Johan Lindquist, brings together the fieldwork of over eighty scholars and covers the nine major countries of the region: Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. An introduction outlines important social transformations in Southeast Asia and key theoretical and methodological innovations that result from ethnographic attention to the study of key figures. Each section begins with an introduction by a country editor followed by short essays offering vivid and intimate portraits set against the background of contemporary Southeast Asia. The result is a volume that combines scholarly rigor with a meaningful, up-to-date portrayal of a region of the world undergoing rapid change. A reference bibliography offers suggestions for further reading.
“The idea of capturing recent transformations of Southeast Asia through vignettes about familiar yet idiosyncratic individuals is brilliant. The everyday experiences and aspirations of people trying to make sense of their lives and dreams convey a complex and often surprising view of contemporary cross-currents, upheavals, anxieties, and struggles in a volatile region. This volume offers a great way for students to understand and empathize with ordinary people and nations in rapid motion.” —Aihwa Ong, co-editor of Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments in the Art of Being Global
January 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3741-9 / $25.00 (PAPER)
Buddhism in a Dark Age: Cambodian Monks under Pol Pot, by Ian Harris, a pioneering study of the fate of Buddhism during the communist period in Cambodia, puts a human face on a dark period in Cambodia’s history. It is the first sustained analysis of the widely held assumption that the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot had a centralized plan to liquidate the entire monastic order. Based on a thorough analysis of interview transcripts and a large body of contemporary manuscript material, it offers a nuanced view that attempts to move beyond the horrific monastic death toll and fully evaluate the damage to the Buddhist sangha under Democratic Kampuchea.
December 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3561-3 / $22.00 (PAPER)
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