Biography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize-winner, has remarked that the twentieth century will be remembered primarily as the century of testimony. The horrors of the century have inspired many superb accounts of the Holocaust and of the Soviet purges and labor camps. Haing Ngor: A Cambodian Odyssey exposes the reader to a lesser-known but no less horrible and significant episode, the brutal and fanatical Khmer Rouge (“red Khmer”) Communist regime of 1975-1979.
Haing Ngor is eminently suited to tell this story. He survived the hell of Cambodian genocide, understood it, and sought to communicate it powerfully and articulately in book and film. He has succeeded brilliantly, presenting a rare combination of keen description of the personal experience of daily life with a valuable understanding of historical events.
Before the Communists came to power, Ngor was a dedicated obstetrician. After his years of unspeakable suffering, he became an award-winning actor in the United States. He will always, however, think of himself as a survivor: “I am a survivor of the Cambodian holocaust. That’s who I am.” He has dedicated his fine work to his father, mother, and wife, who died under the Communist regime. Ngor’s story begins with his childhood and youth in a seemingly tranquil country. Cambodia, a country the size of Washington state, in Southeast Asia, borders on Thailand and Vietnam. Like Vietnam, it was colonized by the...
(The entire section is 1756 words.)
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