$29.95 – Paperback / Black Inc. / Australia
Her Father's Daughter
From the bestselling author of the acclaimed Unpolished Gem.
At twenty-something, Alice is hungry for the milestones of young womanhood: leaving home, choosing a career, finding friendship and love on her own terms. But with each step she takes away from home, she feels the sharp tug of invisible threads: the love and worry of her Chinese-Cambodian parents, who want more than anything to keep her from harm. Her father fears for her safety to an extraordinary degree – but why?
As she digs further into her father’s story, Alice embarks on a journey of painful discovery: of memories lost and found, of her own fears for the future, of history and how it echoes down the years. Set in Melbourne, China and Cambodia, Her Father’s Daughter captures a father–daughter relationship in a moving and astonishingly powerful way.
Reviews by members of our Uncorrected Proof Book Club
Review #1 by Miffy Farquharson, Mentone, VIC
Alice Pung has written an interesting, and yet distanced, memoir of her life during her teens and twenties, and how it is interwoven with the lives of her parents at the same age. Told in the third person, Alice’s journey through her teens is compliant, predictable and somewhat boring. As she leaves school and goes out into the wider world, her life becomes somewhat more interesting, but is still entirely predicated on the whims and wisdom of her parents. It is not really until Alice travels to China, where she is unhappy in love and within herself, that she really becomes curious about the history of her parents and their childhood homes and lives in Cambodia.
And this is where the memoir really becomes fascinating. Starting with a description of Saloth Sar, the Buddhist monk who turned from collecting alms to holding arms; whose name became Pol Pot - a derivative of Political Potential; and who became a madman intent on cleansing his country of everything that didn’t meet his ideals, Part 33, entitled Cambodia: Year Zero, is an extraordinary retelling of the life and times of Kuan Pung and his extended family and friends during the first year of the purges. It is harrowing, bloody and heartbreaking, and yet the use of the third person removes the reader from the action and creates a barrier between the reader and the story.
And it is this barrier that Alice has to contend with in her own life. Kuan Pung has tried to place a barrier between his life in Cambodia and his life in Australia, but despite his best efforts the life he is trying to leave behind leaks through the barrier and taints the Australian life that he considers to be perfect. Alice has to understand both sides of the history of her family before she can fully appreciate what she has.
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