cover of book

A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land: A Novel of Sihanouk’s Cambodia
by Suon Sorin
translated by Roger Nelson
National University of Singapore Press, 2020
Paper: 978-981-325-077-2 | eISBN: 978-981-325-129-8

This is the story of Sam, a young man who leaves the countryside for the big city to work as a cyclo driver, piloting his three-wheeled bicycle taxi through busy streets. Sam just wants to earn an honest wage, but he is constantly thwarted by those with money: his landlord, factory bosses, politicians, even the woman who rents him his cyclo. The city takes its toll, and Sam’s humanity is denied him at every turn, leading to the devastation of his small family and his surrender to temptation. But a dramatic change to Sam’s fortunes is heralded by the country’s liberation from colonial rule. Sam returns to the countryside to discover that “the life of the peasants that had been filled with suffering and decline, was filled with a fresh joy and happiness, and a new hope.”

First published in 1961, eight years after Cambodia gained independence from French colonial rule, A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land is an iconic work of modern Khmer literature, a singularly illuminating document of the new nation. This is one of the first English translations of a modern Khmer novel, and the text is accompanied by an extended introduction that situates the author in his historical and artistic context and examines the novel’s literary value.

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