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In the Shadow of the Banyan Audiobook

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel

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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 (368 )
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4.3 (316 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Judith Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada 06-11-13
    Judith Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada 06-11-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    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
  •  
    Vee R.D.1 Blenheim, New Zealand 01-12-13
    Vee R.D.1 Blenheim, New Zealand 01-12-13
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    "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
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    "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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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 2014
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    "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
  •  
    sara miller CA, United States 11-22-12
    sara miller CA, United States 11-22-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
  •  
    Heather 11-11-12
    Heather 11-11-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing Book"
    Any additional comments?

    Beautifully written book with many lessons- lessons in history, survival, government, corruption, tragedy, and the ability to find beauty in the midst of unspeakable horrors and cruelty. And all based on true story. I appreciated every minute of this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul HARRISBURG, PA, United States 11-10-12
    Paul HARRISBURG, PA, United States 11-10-12 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "wanted to like it but didn't"
    What would have made In the Shadow of the Banyan better?

    The story is supposed to be from the point of view of a 7 yr old child but I don't know any 7 yr old that would have this degree of maturity in the way she viewed and related to her world.


    What could Vaddey Ratner have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    If the narrator were a teenager the book would have been more believable.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Greta Lee?

    I didn't like the narrator. There was way too much 'punctuation' in her voice. Between her way of reading and the prose of the book I often found my attention wandering.


    Any additional comments?

    I really wanted to like this book as I know it is autobiographical and the author lived through a horrific time but the main character was just not realistic and the narrator of the book irritated me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Forestville, CA, United States 10-24-12
    Kathy Forestville, CA, United States 10-24-12
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    "Such a sad story, but so beautifully written!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of In the Shadow of the Banyan to be better than the print version?

    I haven't read the print version.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Raami of course! The story was told through her brave little-girl eyes.


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

    Greta Lee brought just the right amount of variation in tone between characters, and narrated the exceptional prose with such tenderness.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The death of the children in the ditch during the storm, and the uncle's subsequent death.


    Any additional comments?

    I intend to read/listen to all of Vaddey Ratner's books... Hopefully, they aren't all a sad as this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Willut FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CA, US 10-16-12
    Janet Willut FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CA, US 10-16-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible time in history"
    Would you consider the audio edition of In the Shadow of the Banyan to be better than the print version?

    Learned from a different perspective what the people of Cambodia lived through during this time in history. A lesson in philosophy, courage and fortiude.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • 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

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