The Disappeared

Author(s): Kim Echlin


After more than 30 years Anne Greves feels compelled to break her silence about her first lover, and a treacherous pursuit across Cambodia's killing fields. Once she was a motherless girl from taciturn immigrant stock. Defying fierce opposition, she falls in love with Serey, a gentle rebel and exiled musician. She's still only 16 when he leaves her in their Montreal flat to return to Cambodia And, after a decade without word, she abandons everything to search for him in the bars of Phnom Penh, a city traumatized by the Khmer Rouge slaughter. Against all odds the lovers are reunited, and in a political country where tranquil rice paddies harbour the bones of the massacred, Anne pieces together a new life with Serey. But there are wounds that love cannot heal, and some mysteries too dangerous to know. And when Serey disappears again, Anne discovers a story she cannot bear. Haunting, vivid, elegiac, The Disappeared is a tour de force; at once a battle cry and a piercing lamentation, for truth, for love. First published 2009.


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Sal writes: Remember when you first really fell in love? Your compass totally realigned to a new North, peripherals lost in an exquisite fog. Remember too, the power of the music of your youth to lift you up and sweep you away? Music and love are the two potent powers without borders central to Kim Echlin's poetic new novel about two worlds universes apart. Written entirely as the memory of young Canadian Anne Greves, this novel succeeds in bearing witness not only to her great love, but to the history of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. The quite brilliant choice to write the novel in the first person addressing itself to the lost lover, "You", in a pared back, poetic seamless language have created a delicate and very moving space for these lovers to inhabit. The lover is a gentle Cambodian musician, Serey is caught in Montreal when the borders to his homeland are closed down under Pol Pot. He and Anne become lovers but the pull to discover the fate of his family draws Serey back when the borders finally reopen. A decade later, all ties thought to be broken, Anne thinks she sees him momentarily on the TV. She follows him to Phnom Penh her studies of Khmer over the intervening decade making her impetuous search seem possible if improbable. Echlin is one of the most gifted writers I have come across, drawing this tragedy on a mythic scale. The horror, violence, corruption are equally balanced with the beauty of the people, their landscape and culture but the power is in the telling and the haunted, lost souls must have their stories told. Don't miss this beautiful book.

Kim Echlin lives in Toronto, Canada. She has been an arts documentary producer for CBC television, and has written the novels Elephant's Water and Dagmar's Daughter.

General Fields

  • : 9780349122403
  • : Little, Brown Book Group
  • : Abacus
  • : July 2009
  • : 216mm X 135mm
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Kim Echlin
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : 813.6
  • : 256
  • : Modern fiction