We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel | [Vaddey Ratner]

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

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.
Regular Price:$22.63
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this searing first novel - based on the author’s personal story - has been hailed by Little Bee author Chris Cleave as “a masterpiece… utterly heartbreaking and impossibly beautiful.”

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. Displaying the author’s extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.

©2012 Vaddey Ratner (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

"This stunning memorial expresses not just the terrors ofthe Khmer Rouge but also the beauty of what was lost. A hauntingly powerful novel imbued with the richness of old Cambodian lore, the devastation of monumental loss, and the spirit of survival." (Publishers Weekly)

"Vaddey Ratner's novel is ravishing in its ability to humanize and personalize the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. She makes us look unflinchingly at the evil that humankind is capable of, but she gives us a child to hold our hand - an achingly believable child - so that we won't be overwhelmed. As we have passed from one century of horrors and been plunged into a new century giving us more of the same, In the Shadow of the Banyan is a truly important literary event." (Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)

"Often lyrical, sometimes a bit ponderous: a painful,personal record of Cambodia's holocaust." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (246 )
5 star
 (114)
4 star
 (89)
3 star
 (26)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (5)
Overall
4.3 (208 )
5 star
 (104)
4 star
 (69)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.3 (207 )
5 star
 (106)
4 star
 (72)
3 star
 (18)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Melinda UT 08-23-12
    Melinda UT 08-23-12 Member Since 2009

    So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8116
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    582
    235
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4361
    11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Terrible Tale from A Beautiful Storywriter"

    Different approach to telling the horror story of the Communist take over of Cambodia between 1975-'79, and the merciless slaughter of nearly 1/3 of the population (about 3 million) by the Khmer Rouge. The author relies on her own experiences as a child observing the atrocities, but chooses to use a fictional approach, telling the story through the eyes of a 7 yr. old female character named Raami, instead of exclusively using her personal memories to create the story. Ratner's style is poetic and artistic, and she tells much of the story through metaphors and similies--using the folklore, mythology, Buddhist poetry and fables, and the stories of her caretakers and poetic father to make any sense of what is happening, as observed by a child that has never known fear, pain, or monsters other than mythical dragons.

    Ratner doesn't go into great detail compared with other books I've read about Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge, but the overall barbarism and senseless chaos recounted through the eyes of a child whose childhood has turned into a nightmare, ratchets the violence and fear up to another level that is heartbreaking and sickening. Raami's is a royal family, described as *Our family is like a bouquet, each stem and blossom perfectly arranged.* In the middle of a celebration, they are torn from the palatial home, separated, and thrown into the crowds of human despair by the brutal regime. The familial bonds, the respect for life, and the ability to pull strength and hope from nowhere add a sense of inspiration to what could have been a completely depressing novel.

    There is a scene where a rice farmer is carving a small wooden calf, he says it is to hang around the neck of the mother cow that constantly cries *maaa maaa* mourning the death of her calf. The farmer tells Raami he is making the little wooden calf to hang around the neck of the cow so she "will have somewhere for her sorrow to go." The tremendous sorrow and loss is often expressed in beautiful passages like this that made the reading often meditative. Even with such meaningful writing and disturbing subject, there is a sense of recollection in the telling, an overriding distance that seems sometimes removed from emotion, and an insight and style that seems years beyond a 7 year olds, that combined made it difficult for me to genuinely connect with the storyteller, Raami. It didn't detract from the story, just my depth of involvement with the emotional side of Raami's experience--but no regrets. The narration fits the story and the character of Raami well. A timeless story that should be told and remembered.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Sherborn, MA, United States 08-17-12
    Karen Sherborn, MA, United States 08-17-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautifully Written Heatbreaking Must Read!"

    In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner, is the "sleeper" novel-memoir of the summer. This semi-autobiographical novel about the life of one child and her family, in Cambodia, during the regime of Pol Pot, is a must read that the listener will never forget! It is an exquisitely written and powerful account of life and death in the killing fields of Cambodia and the power of a father's love through his self-sacrifice in order that his family, most importantly his children, could endure and survive, both physically and spiritually, through the four years of mass genocide and torture of the Cambodian people under the regime of Pol Pot.

    Vaddey Ratner's own story, written as a novel, is both extremely powerful and gut wrenching. The story spans the four years of the Pol Pot regime. Written in the first person voice of the young Raami, and narrated over the four years of her life, begins when Raami is 5, living a life of privilege as a princess in Phnom Penh, and then quickly moves through the 4 years of extreme deprivation, starvation and death of the Cambodian people in the killing fields of Cambodia, under the Pol Pot regime.

    The author's story is one that you will never forget. It is among one the most beautifully written contemporary novels that I have listened to on Audible in the over 10 years that I have been a member! It is a novel that must not be missed, both for the story and an understanding, in the lyrical and poetic writing of the author, of the suffering of the Cambodian people during the holocaust that they endured. Like her father, who was famous poet in Cambodia, the author, Vaddey Ratner, has a true gift for writing that lives, in her, through her father.

    In the Shadow of the Banyan is written tribute to the 1 to 2 million Cambodians who died in the killing fields during the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and to her father, who gave her, through his own sacrifice, the gift to endure the unendurable and to hope when there was none!



    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Blaine 09-13-12
    S. Blaine 09-13-12 Member Since 2001

    sblaine

    HELPFUL VOTES
    99
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    552
    23
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fell short of five stars"
    Where does In the Shadow of the Banyan rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    All the good things written about this book have great substance. My slight disappointment was only in the fact that there was room to show and tell much, much more depth of the atrocities and horror perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada 06-11-13
    Judith Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada 06-11-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I never new.."

    This was a hard story to listen to. I do not know history very well and this is a story of the people of Cambodia and what they endured under Kymur Rouge. It is important to know these events. The narrator has you believing s he is the young girl, the prose is poetic at times, almost lyrical, and has you moving through a range of emotions as we care for the characters. It is stunning in all ways.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 03-18-13
    Susan 03-18-13

    This is my granddaughter's picture! She is my love.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    204
    38
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't Give Up; It All Comes Together"

    I had to restart this story twice before I decided to just go with it. I found it to be well worth it. The story follows a young girl as she faces so much turmoil with wavering strength, but as the story continues I felt closer and wondered how she would get through it all. In the end the story was not as much about the stories her father told her but the unfolding of a family story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vee R.D.1 Blenheim, New Zealand 01-12-13
    Vee R.D.1 Blenheim, New Zealand 01-12-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyed is not the word for such a harrowing tale."

    But this book held my attention every minute and I thought the narrator was professional and sympathetic.
    There was nothing about it I would change. I cried even in parts and I don't normally do that with a book. Worth every minutes listening and every cent paid.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine 12-29-12
    Catherine 12-29-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    480
    48
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful Poetic Writing!"

    While the basic storyline (set in Cambodia during the regime of the Khmer Rouge) is tragic, the lyrical imagery and the embedded stories of spirits brings beauty to the sordid details, and the tone is one of hope and celebration of life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Whigham edinburgh uk 12-23-12
    C. Whigham edinburgh uk 12-23-12

    caz

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "horryfying and important"
    Where does In the Shadow of the Banyan rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    top 5


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    the main characters courage was amazing, esp as it was based on true events


    What about Greta Lee’s performance did you like?

    excellent


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Antonia Hall South Lake Tahoe, CA 12-02-12
    Antonia Hall South Lake Tahoe, CA 12-02-12 Member Since 2010

    Nothing better than a good book especially books that teach and have something to say.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful imagery"
    If you could sum up In the Shadow of the Banyan in three words, what would they be?

    Poignant, sad, hopeful.






    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the beautiful imagery of Cambodia and the descriptions of Cambodian traditions. Also, the author's description of the resilience of Rami's family.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Rami and her father discover the prayer temple at the Buddhist monastery; they are led there by a servant who knows Rami's father and invites him to write in the sacred space.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Cambodia during the Pol Pot regime -- how one family's stories and tradition kept hope alive.


    Any additional comments?

    The best part of this book is probably the author's afterword -- she is the voice of Rami, the main character; it will bring tears to your eyes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer CA, United States 11-22-12
    Amazon Customer CA, United States 11-22-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    296
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    115
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    63
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Did not care for the narration"

    The narrators overly sweet voice distracted from the tragic but gripping material. Some background on Cambodian history leading up to the revolution might have also better set the story's events.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 31 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
Sort by:
  • Guinea
    6/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Compelling and dreadful. Excellent book."
    What made the experience of listening to In the Shadow of the Banyan the most enjoyable?

    The fact that it was told from the child's view, and that it was based on a true story.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of In the Shadow of the Banyan?

    The death and burial of big uncles baby.


    What does Greta Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    She brings reality to the story.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. It was too harrowing.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jacqui
    Henley on Thames, United Kingdom
    6/4/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dreadful narration"

    I wondered why this audio was so reasonable. Now I know it is cheaply narrated by a woman with a totally expressionless American accent. Totally distracting. I finally gave up. Shame.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jenny Davidson
    Brighton
    2/17/13
    Overall
    "moving and brilliant"

    Was absolutely mesmerised by this book. Beautiful writing with rich and detailed descriptions, drawing you into the characters, the place and the time. A powerful story based on real life, which makes it even more poinient. Totally recommend!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marianna
    Horst, Netherlands
    12/6/12
    Overall
    "Poetry in prose - a masterpiece of storytelling."

    The most powerful book I have read this year. Impossibly moving, most elegantly written book, poetically even, despite writing about one of the worst and most devastating atrocities in human history. The most unique account of human resilience, even at such young age, the nourishing power of narratives and stories, even in the most unbelievably difficult times, and most of all - incredible power of love between the child and her father, which becomes a source of life force - physically, at times of the greatest famine, and emotionally at times of the most profound trauma and desolation. Instead of slipping into a self-pity, or anger, which must have required the greatest integrity, the whole book conveys the most profound humanity - in fact, there are so many very deep messages, which left a strong impression on me, that I definitely want to re-read the story again. I could not recommend it more highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alyson
    Galleywood, United Kingdom
    8/20/12
    Overall
    "Fantastic, a MUST LISTEN"

    Superbly written, nicely read and a tragic tale. This is a book everyone should read. It is a great example of man's inhumanity to man and what twisted political ideas can lead to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.