. សេរីភាពបញ្ចេញមតិគឺជាលក្ខណៈគ្រិៈនៃសិទ្ធិ We should live without fear( សូមបងប្អូនជាជាតិខ្មែរ សូមចូលរួមបោះឆ្នោតជ្រើសរើសមេឃុំ/សង្កាត់ នៅថ្ងៃទី ០៤ ខែ មិថុនា ឆ្នាំ២០១៧ អោយបានគ្រប់ៗគ្នា."

ព៍ត៌មានទាន់ហេតុការណ៍ៈ បាតុកម្មនៅមុខ សាលាក្រុងប៉ោយប៉ែតមានជ័យ ថ្ងៃទី ៣០ ខែ ឧសភា ឆ្នាំ២០១៧

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Embassy of Cambodia: Slave awakens to her truth

Zadie Smith
Penguin, 80pp, $14.99 
 
This slim book slots weighty themes into its slick sentences. Set in a patch of the world on which Zadie Smith has stamped her stylistic signature (in her debut White Teeth and in her recent novel NW), the streets of Willesden, North-West London, are vividly brought to life. The character at the core of this compelling story of class conflict is Fatou, a young domestic servant from the Ivory Coast who has brought few possessions to London but much of her painful past.
What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be a slave? One day Fatou reads a newspaper article about a Sudanese ''slave'' living in a rich man's house in London, which makes her again consider her own condition, working for the heartless Derawal family: "It was not the first time that Fatou had wondered if she herself was a slave". She works for the family doing domestic chores, has had her passport confiscated and is given lodgings but no wage. With the spotlight shining on the issue of slavery through such films as 12 Years a Slave, this is a topical story excavating the thorny issue of liberty and servitude in the contemporary world.
On her way to the swimming pool each week, Fatou pauses as she passes the Embassy of Cambodia, drawn to its "strangely compelling aura"; its tall walls reveal glimpses of a game of badminton with a shuttlecock flying back and forth. Smith documents the curious buildings on the Embassy's street, spanning the city's class divides, from mansions to a dingy retirement home peopled with "distressed souls". She touches on the brutal period in Cambodia's history of genocide and the Khmer Rouge, a time when "vulnerability was punishable by death". It is vulnerability that is at the heart of this tough yet tender tale.
The stylistic influence of Virginia Woolf was clear in NW and here too her ghost haunts the streams-of-consciousness sections: Smith is in her element when evoking Fatou swimming. Fatou's clandestine trips to the swimming pool are her respite from her monotonous life and the water triggers memories, from learning to swim, "struggling through the rough grey sea" in Accra where she worked at Carib Beach Resort, to a painful trauma. Interwoven is the present-day tale of her growing friendship with Andrew, enriching her life.
"Was it wrong to hope to be happy?", Fatou wonders.
Survival is all for these people living on society's margins. "The key to surviving as a people, in Fatou's opinion, was to make your own arrangements." How should our lives be arranged? To what extent should we be "drawing a circle around ourselves and remaining within that circle?", and to what extent letting strangers into our charmed circle? Smith beautifully traces the geometry of human relationships, measuring and marking and melting away the borders and barriers between people.
While NW was in part inspired by the form of Roland Barthes' autobiography, this new story is divided into 21 tiny sections, that cleverly both resist and embrace storytelling. Style and content are intimately wedded, reflecting the pattern of human lives, yearning for order.
The mysterious narrator observing Fatou uses the "we" perspective to speak for the whole of Willesden, declaring: "We are not really a poetic people. We are from Willesden." Yet the triumph of this powerful book is its distillation of poetry from the quotidian, with sharp observations beautifully crystallising moods of melancholy, yearning and hope.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/the-embassy-of-cambodia-slave-awakens-to-her-truth-20140206-322dz.html#ixzz2sooWg8Uk

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