One family's quest to survive the devastation of the Khmer Rouge
Striking and moving... The comics form allows readers [to] understand through chronological progression and a close view how horror can become the stuff of the everyday.--The New York Times
Year of the Rabbit tells the true story of one family's desperate struggle to survive the murderous reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge seized power in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Immediately after declaring victory in the war, they set about evacuating the country's major cities with the brutal ruthlessness and disregard for humanity that characterized the regime ultimately responsible for the deaths of one million citizens.
Cartoonist Tian Veasna was born just three days after the Khmer Rouge takeover, as his family set forth on the chaotic mass exodus from Phnom Penh. Year of the Rabbit
is based on firsthand accounts, all told from the perspective of his parents and other close relatives. Stripped of any money or material possessions, Veasna's family found themselves exiled to the barren countryside along with thousands of others, where food was scarce and brutal violence a constant threat. Year of the Rabbit
shows the reality of life in the work camps, where Veasna's family bartered for goods, where children were instructed to spy on their parents, and where reading was proof positive of being a class traitor. Constantly on the edge of annihilation, they realized there was only one choice--they had to escape Cambodia and become refugees. Veasna has created a harrowing, deeply personal account of one of the twentieth century's greatest tragedies.
About the Author
Tian Veasna was born in Cambodia in 1975, three days after the Khmer Rouge came to power. He moved to France with his parents in 1980, where he graduated from Strasbourg's École des Arts Décoratifs in 2001. After that he returned to Cambodia for the first time, offering drawing classes as part of a United Nations humanitarian project. Since then Veasna has worked in publishing, taught visual art, and cofounded the workshop and gallery space Le Bocal, which specializes in illustration and graphic art. Veasna's desire to recount what his family lived through in 1975 led him to return to Cambodia frequently and record the memories of his family members. Those stories became Year of the Rabbit, his first book. Veasna lives in France.