Selected as a Book of the Year in 2017 in the Scottish Herald
‘The beauty of the prose is in contrast with the horror anticipated by this superbly subtle narrative’ Kapka Kassabova
In 1971, on a routine outing through the Cambodian countryside, the young French ethnologist Fran-ois Bizot is captured by the Khmer Rouge. Accused of being an agent of ‘American imperialism’, he is chained and imprisoned. His captor, Douch – later responsible for tens of thousands of deaths – interrogates him at length; after three months of torturous deliberation, during which his every word was weighed and his life hung in the balance, he was released. Four years later, the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh. Fran-ois Bizot became the official intermediary between the ruthless conqueror and the terrified refugees behind the gate of the French embassy: a ringside seat to one of history’s most appalling genocides. Written thirty years later, Fran-ois Bizot’s memoir of his horrific experiences in the ‘killing fields’ of Cambodia is, in the words of John le Carr-, a ‘contemporary classic’.