Funny Women…Serious Business
Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, is a compelling storyteller and an inspiring woman, and we are looking forward to her message of survival and hope on October 24!
Get Ready for the Luncheon!
1. Purchase the book and support Rosie’s Place through AmazonSmile!
Loung Ung was only five when Khmer Rouge soldiers stormed her native city of Phnom Penh in 1975. Four years later, two million Cambodians–nearly 30% of the country’s population–had died at the hands of leader Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Loung lost both parents, two sisters, and 20 other relatives. In 1980, she, her older brother Meng and his wife escaped by boat to a refugee camp in Thailand before relocating to Vermont.
Loung has made more than 30 trips back to Cambodia and has devoted herself to helping her native land heal from the traumas of war and to ending violence against women and child soldiers. Read more about her here.
Loung’s bestselling memoir, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, was recipient of the 2001 Asian/Pacific American Librarians’ Association award for “Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature,” and has been selected for many school and university reading programs in the U.S. and internationally.
First They Killed My Father—produced and directed by Angelina Jolie—is now on Netflix and in select theaters. Loung Ung’s book was adapted as a screenplay by Angelina Jolie and the author, and filming took place entirely in Cambodia with an all-Cambodian cast. The film is receiving rave reviews and standing ovations!
3. Discuss the book.
Share this inspiring book with your book club or friends and use the reading group guide below to spark discussion of Loung’s story.
1. What fundamental problems existed in the Khmer Rouge's plan that caused the destruction of so many lives? Were there any values that the Khmer Rouge claimed to hold that you share?
2. What impact did the narrator's child's voice have on your experience as a reader? How would you characterize the transformation that takes place in her narrative voice throughout the story?
3. How did it affect your reading of the book that you were aware of Loung's father's impending death long before her?
4. Would you describe Loung as a feminist? How did the experiences of the Ung family differ during the war because of gender?
5. What was your impression of the final separation, both geographic and cultural, that Loung had with her surviving family? Did you sympathize with her eventual desire to assimilate into American culture, or had you expected her to be more aggressive about pursuing her family relationships earlier on?
6. Loung saw herself as a "strong" person, as did many other people in the book, and was eventually drafted into a soldier training camp as a result. What are the qualities of a survivor? How does one reconcile compassion with a will to survive? What qualities enabled her gentle sister Chou to survive as well?
7. With armed struggle a reality of life for people all over the world both past and present, how does one draw the line as to which means are ethical and unethical for coping with it, such as the author's current campaign against the use of landmines? Are there other tools of war that you believe should be broadly banned?