A sense of dread pervades almost every panel.The Phnom Penh Post
One family’s quest to survive the devastation of the Khmer Rouge
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 seizes 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.
Praise for Year of the Rabbit
Year of the Rabbit shows how horror becomes routine. It vibrates with countless details that illuminate both the dogmatic absurdity of the executioners and the sparks of hope that can sustain a victim on the edge of the abyss.Télérama
In Year of the Rabbit Veasna lays out what it took to survive against that hellish backdrop. His cartooning has a scratchy simplicity to it perhaps because clarity is what is needed here. The result is full of horror and a small dash of hope.Teddy Jamieson, Scotland Herald
A stirring depiction of how both trauma and healing take place over the course of generations.Publishers Weekly
Veasna depicts his family’s years of suffering under the Khmer Rouge in this harrowing story, based on firsthand accounts by survivors… A powerful portrayal of one of the most sorrowful events of the 20th century.Library Journal
Written and drawn with documentary precision, but also great sensitivity and tenderness. A triumph.Le Figaro
Tian Veasna’s brilliant and powerful book about the murderous reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and the experiences of his family under the regime [makes] easy work of complex political history. But it’s also exquisitely spare. Sometimes, there is nothing to be said; no words are adequate.Rachel Cooke, The Guardian
Tian Veasna’s Year of the Rabbit documents in granular detail the society’s quick descent into terror... the beauty of the drawings a counterpoint to the depicted misery, with those interned there working back- and spirit-breaking hours at manual labour, while beloved relatives and friends disappear, never to be seen again. Against this hellish background, again, there are small bits of luck and minor kindnesses that stand out all the more starkly.The Globe & Mail
Beyond the politics—and devastation—of war, the inspiring bonds of family, especially during the most horrific experiences, should find resonance with mature teen readers.Booklist, Starred Review