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In the Shadow of the Banyan
A hauntingly powerful novel imbued with the devastation of monumental loss and...
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Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

Created: 06/03/13

Replies: 9

Posted Jun. 03, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

Vaddey Ratner graciously answered questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan Tree in June 2013. Below you'll find her answers, which supplement the extensive Q&A at http://www.bookbrowse.com/author_interviews/full/index.cfm/author_number/2212/vaddey-ratner.


Posted Jun. 04, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

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RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

Q. Thank you for writing this book. Have you approached anyone in Hollywood about turning your book into a movie?


Vaddey Ratner: Thank you, Rebecca, for taking the time to read my book and for joining in the discussion. No, I haven’t approached anyone in Hollywood. As with publishing, it’s not the writer's place to approach filmmakers on one's own. My literary agent, Emma Sweeney, has been coordinating with film agents, and I have gotten a phone call from at least one producer, whose contact I forwarded to my agent. If, however, you happen to be in the inner circles of Hollywood, please do feel free to share a copy of the book!

The two actors that I most admire are Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Day-Lewis, so if we can get either one to play Raami, I would certainly go for the film version! In all seriousness, if "In the Shadow of the Banyan" is ever made into a film, I would love to see what would come of it in the hands of someone like Ang Lee, who recently won the Academy Award for directing "Life of Pi."


Posted Jun. 04, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

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RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

Q. Many times as I read your book, I started crying - just overwhelmed by man's inhumanity to other human beings. In Chapter 22 when the Fat One's daughter is wearing the dress that had been on Radana's body for burial, I felt as if I were a part of your family and was there witnessing this atrocity. I feel as if this is something that you really did experience. Do you think that a person's faith in a spiritual life - whether it is reincarnation or "heaven" or some sort of eternal existence for the soul - help a person to deal with the intense pain of an emotion like this?


Vaddey Ratner: Once again, thank you, Rebecca, for your kind and thoughtful words. Your sharing of the grief and sorrow expressed in these pages augments the collective mourning for those lost lives. I believe that faith is truly essential, even if that means simply faith in humanity—in the possibility of goodness that can exist alongside violence and atrocity. Without that, it would be extremely hard to endure. What helped me to survive was the possibility that something of my father—his generosity and nobility—existed in every person I encountered. For me, it isn’t so much a belief in reincarnation or heaven, but this strong faith that even when everything is lost, a home can be rebuilt, and life continues—not in some celestial realm but in the stories that we carry with us, that we pass on to our children.


Posted Jun. 12, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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christy

Join Date: 05/22/12

Posts: 40

RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

Q. I think this book would be an extremely valuable adjunct to teaching young people about the history of this era in Cambodia----have you thought about putting together a teaching guide for classroom questions? Visiting schools and giving talks to young people about your inspiring story? I can imagine this might be personally difficult but so incredibly powerful a message coming from you.....


Vaddey Ratner: I’m very hopeful, Christy, that the novel will indeed reach many young people who know very little if anything about this history. I’m so pleased that Georgetown University and Kalamazoo College have recently adopted "In the Shadow of the Banyan" as common reading for their full incoming classes this year – I’ll be visiting both in a few months time. I’ve done visits as well to high schools in Washington, DC and Baltimore, and recently learned that a school district in Washington State has adopted the novel for its high school curriculum.

I hope it's a pattern, and that other schools, colleges and universities will adopt the novel in the curriculum as well. I believe in each case the suggestion begins with a motivated reader like you.

A class on international human rights at McMaster University in Toronto asked me to speak on the theme of human rights, violent conflict, and conflict prevention. Others have asked me to speak on the refugee experience, narrative, memory, the importance of girls’ education… I’ve found that the novel provides so many possibilities.

I don't arrange events myself, so if anyone is interested in proposing events, please contact the S&S Speakers Bureau: http://www.vaddeyratner.com/contact/


Posted Jun. 12, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 108

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RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

I agree 100% with christy's suggestion above. And if you, Ms. Ratner, are available to speak at school or universities, I hope you will include your contact information in an email to me


Posted Jun. 13, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susanf

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 5

RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

Q. First, I also thank you for this amazing book. It is a story of horror yet with so much beauty and human spirit. Actually, two questions...will your daughter one day also be presented to the King of Cambodia since she is also in the royal line? And with this marvelous accomplishment of the writing of In the Shadow of the Banyon, do you have a theme/plot of another novel forming in your mind?


Vaddey Ratner: Indeed, Susan, my daughter has been introduced to the King. His Majesty granted her an audience when she turned 10 several years ago. By Cambodian tradition, the royal lineage is passed down through the father but monarchs also confer royal title based on one’s achievements. Perhaps my daughter will earn that recognition when she grows up to be an even better writer than her mama and wins the Nobel Prize for Literature… ?

I plan to share some photos of the palace visit both on my website ([link]http://www.vaddeyratner.com[/lin]) and on the Banyan Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/vaddeyratner4intheshadowofthebanyan). Please check in on the site and "like" the Facebook page to be kept up-to-date.

I’m working on a second novel, set in contemporary Cambodia, which explores the war's reverberations in the lives of survivors. The narrative employs a lens that moves among intersecting perspectives, and across a much broader geography. While poetry weaves its way through my first novel, music will give tenor to this next story about parallel loves and losses.


Posted Jun. 14, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lesleym

Join Date: 05/12/11

Posts: 26

RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

Q. What type of research did you do to write this book? Your book is a great way to bring this information about Cambodia's history to light.


Vaddey Ratner: Thank you, Lesley. I'd like to share my response to a similar question that was put forth to me. It's one of my favorite interviews, which appeared in The Writer Magazine about the process of writing, including research:

All along I knew my memory was incomplete. At Cornell I focused on the history of Southeast Asia, particularly Cambodia, seeking an understanding of the historical, political, and social situation at that time. During my studies and after, I also went traveling and lived in the region for nearly a decade. I wanted an accurate context for the story, but I didn't do research for the novel in the sense of reading and taking copious notes and then going off to write my fiction. I wanted my knowledge to settle and mature over time, knowing that specific facts and dates can always be quickly looked up…

Read the full interview here: http://www.writermag.com/2013/05/06/in-the-shadow-of-terror


Posted Jun. 19, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 108

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RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

I wrote to Oprah Winfrey and asked her to consider your book for her "book club" suggestion !!


Posted Jul. 23, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
asha

Join Date: 05/01/13

Posts: 12

RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

I read your book and was moved to tears. I'm curious if it was a conscious decision to not mention the brutal Pol Pot by name? His regime's cruelty is a dark shadow on Kampuchean politics and thank you for bringing this into mainstream American psyche.


Posted Jul. 29, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
asmith0929

Join Date: 07/29/13

Posts: 1

RE: Vaddey Ratner answers questions about In The Shadow of the Banyan

About the film adaptation: I know that this is a stretch, but I envision your words and sadness much like a Miyazaki animated film. Check out "Grave of Fireflies" or "Spirited Away". I think animation is the best way to render the childlike imagination of the "stories" in your book. I would like to see the adaptation weave in and out of reality. A bit like "Pan's Labyrinth".


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