Suggested One Read: The Rent Collector

Book cover for The Rent Collector by Camron WrightWe collected nominations for next year’s One Read book throughout November, and this month we are highlighting some of the titles your friends and neighbors suggested. We received one of our most heartfelt nominations for Camron Wright’s “The Rent Collector,” a novel set in Cambodia’s biggest municipal dump.

“This is the best book I have read all year!” begins our nominator. “I have recommended this book to everyone I know. The setting: an enormous garbage dump in Cambodia. The people who actually live there and try to eke out a living from picking through the trash are real. The story itself is fictionalized. It is a gripping read that pulls you in to this unthinkable environment and makes you ponder many questions including hope, healing and redemption. As ‘the rent collector’ teaches Sang Ly to read, we are asked to give thought to what measures up enough to be called literature. I think that is an important topic to probe as well.”

Want to know what other books people in your community are discussing? View all of the nominated titles we have highlighted here at oneread.org so far, and find your next good read!

Suggested One Read: In the Shadow of the Banyan

Book cover for In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner“This is the best book I have ever read.”

These are the words of the reader nominating “In the Shadow of the Banyan” by Vaddey Ratner to be the 2013 One Read selection. Our nominator continues: “The language of this book is exquisite. Radner explores her childhood in this autobiographical novel set in Cambodia during the regime of the Khmer Rouge. History personalized touches readers in a way that dry facts cannot. Older readers remember this time, and younger people may be introduced to an era with which they are unfamiliar.”

Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this novel is based on the author’s personal story. For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood, the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. (From the publisher’s description.)

Want to know what books others in your community have read and loved? See other readers’ nominations for One Read 2013.