Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer literature festival was great. Why did few people hear about it?




Khmer literature festival was great. Why did few people hear about it?

Khmer language books for sale at a street-side vendor in Phnom Penh.
Khmer language books for sale at a street-side vendor in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Khmer literature festival was great. Why did few people hear about it?

I am one of the writers who attended the Khmer literature festival in Siem Reap last weekend. Even though the festival seems small, there were at least 30 writers involved. It was well-organised. Most of us were travelling from Phnom Penh. The organisers worked very hard to put all the pieces together, arranging logistics, accommodation, and managing the whole festival.

I felt a sense of unity and happy to be able to spend three days with other writers. We have the same common goal that we want to see Cambodia start to value reading and seeing its benefits to the nation. By being united, we want to see more valuing of writers. They really need the support and encouragement to keep moving forward and producing more books.

The festival took place at Wat Damnak for the first two days, and the last day was at Wat Bo. I was presenting in the session of Snadai Thmei – “New writing and Publishing”. There were 13 writers who presented their books, some of them were already published, and some are going to publish in the coming months or early next year.

A favourite moment was watching the women’s drum group Medha. Their performance was stunning, and I shed tears without knowing it when during the finale they shouted “be brave, persist, courage!” Master artist Peak Chapech also performed solo Bassak storytelling. It was an impressive one-hour recital of the tale.

The festival’s programme on philosophy focused on the writer Khun Srun, who perished during the Khmer Rouge regime at the age of 33. His work is not very well known, but is celebrated for its social criticism that still has relevance today.

I never really knew about Khun Srun’s work until attending the festival, and realised his work is really amazing. There are lot of positive thoughts and philosophy in his book. After the festival, I now want to do more research and read more of his work.

I could see that the festival still lacked media outreach. It was a great festival, and I wish there were more people who knew about it.

Thon Thavry
Phnom Penh
Author of
A Proper Woman

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Cambodia, CRF win rice battle in EU Court

    The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia. A court order uploaded to the European