Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner
A Novel

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The novel is organized in three movements...Lush with tropical heat and heated emotions, this is no easy read but impossible to put down.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

An astonishing and powerful new novel from PEN/Hemingway finalist Vaddey Ratner.

Leaving the safety of America, Teera returns to Cambodia for the first time since her harrowing escape as a child refugee. She carries a letter from a man who mysteriously signs himself as “the Old Musician” and claims to have known her father in the Khmer Rouge prison where he disappeared twenty-five years ago.

In Phnom Penh, Teera finds a society still in turmoil, where perpetrators and survivors of unfathomable violence live side by side, striving to mend their still beloved country. She meets a young doctor who begins to open her heart, immerses herself in long-buried memories and prepares to learn her father’s fate.

Meanwhile, the Old Musician, who earns his modest keep playing ceremonial music at a temple, awaits Teera’s visit with great trepidation. He will have to confess the bonds he shared with her parents, the passion with which they all embraced the Khmer Rouge’s illusory promise of a democratic society, and the truth about her father’s end.

A love story for things lost and things restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness, Music of the Ghosts is an unforgettable journey through the embattled geography of the heart and its hidden chambers where love can be reborn.
 

About Vaddey Ratner

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Vaddey Ratner was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. In 1981 she arrived in the United States as a refugee not knowing English and ultimately went on to graduate summa cum laude from Cornell University. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.
 
Published April 11, 2017 by Touchstone. 336 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Music of the Ghosts
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jan 23 2017

The novel is organized in three movements...Lush with tropical heat and heated emotions, this is no easy read but impossible to put down.

Read Full Review of Music of the Ghosts: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Elayne Clift on Apr 21 2017

Once again a writer, a female one, finds no other way to end a woman’s story without giving her a prince charming and a child to help her find her way to renewed hope, identify and resilience. Given Ratner’s personal experience of escape from the Cambodian genocide, such a critique may seem unkind.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Gaiutra Bahadur on May 26 2017

“Music of the Ghosts” has itself been fashioned by a writer scarred by war, a writer whose ability to discern the poetic even in brutal landscapes and histories may be the gift that helped her reassemble the fragments of a self and a life after such shattering suffering.

Read Full Review of Music of the Ghosts: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times
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