Year of the Rabbit

Tian Veasna. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-77046-376-9
The Khmer Rouge killed 26% of the population of Cambodia; while it would be impossible to reflect all the individual stories contained within that statistic, Veasna’s saga of his family’s survival is a moving addition to a growing body of diaspora work about the war years. It’s 1975 and Khim, a Phnom Penh doctor; his pregnant wife, Lina; and their extended family are caught in the middle of a conflict between American-backed forces and the Communist Khmer Rouge. Confusion reigns over who’s in power and who can be trusted. Veasna sets the regime’s boasts about restored dignity and equality against a backdrop of destroyed villages. Khim and his family make a winding, years-long escape, punctuated by tragedy, great kindness, and moments of joy. Charts of things such as the barter value of various goods (rice, aspirin, cigarettes), coupled with impressionistic drawings of the villages where exiled city folk are forced to farm rice, serve as a reminder that daily life marches on. Although Veasna’s epic could have benefited from a family tree, he does an admirable job of keeping a clear narrative within the chaos. This memorable memoir is a stirring depiction of how both trauma and healing take place over the course of generations. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/25/2019
Release date: 08/20/2019
Genre: Comics
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