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Her Father's Daughter by Alice Pung
Alice, you have kept me awake into the wee hours of the night. You have managed to put together yet another brilliant book, a memoir, a story of you and your father. You are truly a brilliant writer.
Her Father's Daughter is a more serious book than her first book, Unpolished Gem, yet Alice's fragrant Australian, Cambodian, Chinese flavour flows so well with humour, dry wit and at many moments, the utter truth of the story that she carried me along this incredibly personal journey of her family.
Her Father's Daughter begins with Alice stepping off the bus in China, in the town that her family have come from, before Braybook, in Western Melbourne and before fleeing Cambodia. She is wanting to understand her roots, her father more. Alice doesn't find what she expected in China, but when she returns and spends more time with her father, talking with him, listening to the stories, to the difficult stories of living the Black Bandits and having to flee death and persecution from the Pol Pot ("Political Potential") regime. This part of the story is written in his voice and hers, allowing us to gain insight into what she thinks her father may have been thinking during during her time during university and beyond. This helps give some perspective to Kuan, her father, through his stories and those of his friends.
Alice tells the terrible story of the Year Zero so well, giving me so much understanding into the tragic unfolding of the events before and after 17 August 1975 when life as all in Phnom Penm knew it was to change forever. She writes it in an incredibly respectful way that show the pain and loss the Cambodians went through as she follows the story of her father and his extended family from before Year Zero until they escaped to the refugee camp on the border of Thailand.
Many of those who made it out vowed that they would never set foot in that country again. After reading what the people were put through, I can understand more clearly the trauma that they would have felt. This story gives so much insight into the plight of so many people whose lives are suddenly turned upside down, and how this affects them forever.
Thank you again Alice for a brilliant, brilliant, brilliantly told story that was well worth being told. 10 / 10.
Kuan, thank you for sharing your story.