Tian Veasna's Year of the Rabbit: In stores now
I’m old enough to know of the Khmer Rouge but young enough to never fully understand what really happened other than a Cambodian societal collapse. Year of the Rabbit brilliantly lays out the entire sequence of events in a very personal and human way. 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. He shows us his family’s comfortable city life destroyed in a matter of hours as the citizenry is evacuated and they begin their harrowing journey.
Part of what makes this book so affecting is Tian’s light touch. His cartooning remains clear and lively. He tells the stories of his family from their point of view. Their conversations are just that—conversations. Sometimes the subject is terrifying of course and yet sometimes it's mundane. The people and events aren’t reduced to caricatures. This light touch not only educates but also keeps the proceedings from becoming unbearably grim.
1975 Cambodia was a violent low-point in world history. The Khmer Rouge regime doesn't take up a lot of space in North American history books. Year of the Rabbit seeks to rectify that hole in our knowledge. This is a vital piece of 20th century world history and a brilliant way to move towards understanding the world we live in now. Tian has created an essential history here.
Year of the Rabbit is in stores today. Ask for it, you won’t be sorry.