Part of Sun University, The Baltimore Sun book club is a series of book club events featuring the book's author. On Oct. 21, we host Vaddey Ratner to discuss her novel In the Shadow of the Banyan.
In a captivating first novel, a survivor of the killing fields of Cambodia weaves a spellbinding tale of human resilience amidst horror, the redemptive promise of stories, and the enduring power of love. Author Vaddey Ratner was a young girl surrounded by privilege when the revolutionary faction known as the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. Despite their royal lineage – Vaddey’s father was a great grandson of the 20th century King Sisowath, and she carries the official title of Princess to this day – her family was driven from their home in the capital city of Phnom Penh into a four-year nightmare of separation, forced labor, starvation, execution, and death. Ratner magnificently transforms a narrative of atrocity into a work of art as she blends the entrancing folklore and literature of her native land with the story of her own family, pays tribute to the memory of those lost, and bears eloquent witness to the indomitable human will to survive, even in the most terrible circumstances.