“I risked everything to get you out of there,” she said, her voice taut with love, and fear for my safety. “Now, you are going back.” ~ Vaddey Ratner
Cambodian Author Vaddey Ratner was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power resulting in forced labor, starvation, and near execution. She escaped while many of her family members perished or were left behind. Her novel In the Shadow of the Banyan is a fictionalized account about her childhood and “survival of the subsequent Cambodian genocide.”
It seems to make more sense to tell the story as a nonfiction account, but there are reasons why Ratner chose fiction instead. She was very young at the time and may have been traumatized by real life events and the chaos of war resulting in the suppression of some memories. Fiction may provide the imagination needed to get closer to the emotional truth and perhaps “ironically it might also allow her to get closer to the factual truth.” Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives writes, “Fiction by its very nature allows for more flexibility and, possibly, tenderness on behalf of the writer.”
“In the Shadow of the Banyan was one of the most highly sought after galleys at this year’s BookExpo America,” writes Beth Kephart of PP. Author Chris Cleve describes the novel as “one of the most extraordinary and beautiful acts of storytelling I have ever encountered.” Ratner’s novel will be published on August 7th by Simon and Schuster.
Have you ever wanted to turn real life situations and people into fictional events and characters to better understand them or yourself? Weight in below!