Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin

At first, I found the lack of quotations around the speech was offputting.  I kept reading and it wasn't long until I was lost in the sparse an beautiful prose.  This is an easy page turning read that makes you remember that wonderful mix of deep pure love and being young and not needing money to have so much enjoyment.

Canadian novelist Echlin (Elephant Winter) derives a powerful, transcendent love story from the Cambodian genocide. Anne Greves, a motherless 16-year-old student, meets a Cambodian refugee, Serey, working as a math instructor amid the heady music scene of late-1970s Montreal, and they fall irredeemably in love. Serey's family got him out of Pol Pot's Cambodia, although he is waiting to be able to return and find them; Anne's father, a successful engineer of prosthetics, does not approve of Anne's exotic, older boyfriend, and when, as her father predicted, Serey leaves her, disappearing for 11 years, Anne journeys to Phnom Penh to find him. There she comes face to face with the terrible fallout of the collapsed Khmer Rouge dictatorship. The beautifully spare narrative is daringly imaginative in the details, drawing the reader deep inside the wounded capital city. Anne's single-mindedness drives the action, although her insistence on Western values of accountability knocks hollowly against the machinery of a ruthless military state. This is a book with such beautiful prose that I frequently found myself rereading sentences.

Rating: 4.9 Highly Recommend