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Vaddey Ratner Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

In The Shadow of The Banyan (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Music of the Ghosts (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

A Cambodian-American novelist, Vaddey Ratner is an inspiring writer, with her unique insight into the human condition, as she has a true gift for language and all its intricacies and, not only that, but she is a survivor of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, surviving to tell her story, as she and her mother escaped to America, her being young at the time, but still having seen enough tragedy for one lifetime. This can be seen reflected through her work, as she writes with a sensitivity and understanding that is unsurpassed, creating a style and a tone that is at once intoxicating and immersive in equal measure. She brings her subjects to life, allowing them to leap off the page almost, with her somewhat seductive style of prose that gradually draws the reader in, keeping them hooked throughout. Showing a side of life that has previously been unseen, she has been able to create a world that is entirely different and is unlike anything that has been seen before. A student of language throughout her life, she has been able to articulate her thoughts in an evocative style and tone that many aspiring writers can only dream of. Knowing exactly what it is that she wants to say, she says it with precision and accuracy, immediately getting to the heart of the subject matter effectively and with great care. Not wasting any words, she also manages to make every syllable count, as it keeps the reader compelled, along with her extremely well drawn characters that manage to retain a sense of realism throughout too. All of this goes some way towards explaining why she has gone on to be lauded by the critical establishment, receiving a whole variety of awards and nominations for her, something which will continue for some time yet.

Early and Personal Life

Being only five years old, she would come to witness the rise of the Khmer Rouge and all the horrors of their regime in Cambodia in 1975, something which has stayed with her throughout her entire life. Forced to endure four years of starvation, enforced labor and almost being executed, she and her mother would escape to America, leaving behind many family members who weren’t so lucky. Arriving in Missouri in 1981 she didn’t know any English whatsoever, but regardless she persevered and, eventually, became valedictorian of her high-school in 1990, having grown up in the low-income area of ‘Torre de San Miguel’.

Later attending Cornell University she would become ‘summa cum laude’ following her graduation, as she would later go on to write about her experiences growing up. It would also be her family that would inspire her, as she previously come from Cambodian aristocracy before the Khmer Rouge regime arrived, with King Sisowath being a descendant of hers who ruled during the early part of the twentieth century. Now a prolific novelist constantly working full-time, she is currently creating a legacy for herself that will truly stand the test of time for many years to come.

Writing Career

In 2012 she would bring out her first novel which, not being part of any series working as a stand-alone title, would make her name and establish her as a figure to watch in the years to come. Bringing out the title ‘In the Shadow of Banyan’ she would write about her background and her story as someone coming to live in America through a fictionalized account of her life. This was later followed up by the title ‘Music of the Ghosts’ she returns to familiar subject matter with another fictionalized account of her life, this time delving into the later periods of her returning to Cambodia.

Achieving bestseller status, she has managed to reach the top of the New York bestseller list with her first debut novel, an impressive feat for a first time author. It would also see her being awarded a place as a PEN/Hemingway finalist, something which would also secure her position as one of the foremost writers currently working within her field to date. She has also undertaken a whole variety of media appearances, including interviews through prestigious outlets such as NPR, all of which insures her status as a writer of much importance, with more titles expected to follow.

In the Shadow of Banyan

Brought out through the much coveted ‘Simon Schuster’ publishing imprint, this was the initial debut novel to come from Vaddey Ratner as an author, it not being a part of any series. First released in 2012 on the 7th of August, it would establish her career as a new and exciting talent in the world of literature, as well telling her story for the first time. Bringing the horrors of Cambodia to life on the page, this is truly a testament to the very real horrors undergone at the brutal hands of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Seeing the events of the Cambodian revolution through the eyes of seven-year-old Raami, it sees the civil war that arrives onto the streets of Phnom Penh and its horrifying aftermath. Having lived a life of privilege up until that point Raami is forced into a world of chaos and upheaval. Fighting for her own survival over the following years, she struggles against the regime in a story of resilience and human endurance. Inspiring as it is touching, it tells of the power of the human spirit living in the shadow of Banyan.

Music of the Ghosts

Released through the ‘Touchstone’ publishing label this time, this was to be the second stand-alone title to come from Ratner, it also not being a part of any series. Telling the story of Cambodia once more, it revisits the scene of the tragedy in the aftermath, looking at the history and the fallout of what exactly happened there, giving a voice to the victims and the survivors, as it really tells their story. Released in 2017 on the 11th of April, this shows a clear development for the author, as it depicts how far she has come as an author, ever since her first novel.

Leaving America, Teera returns to Cambodia to find answers. With a letter signed ‘the old musician’ given to her by an old man that claimed to her know her father, she returns to learn what became of him after he disappeared from the Khmer Rouge prison twenty-five years prior. Taking a journey through the society of Phnom Penh post regime, she learns of what it means for both the survivors and the perpetrators to live side-by-side. Understanding the past, she comes to learn what this world means now through the music of the ghosts.

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