Summary and book reviews of The Last Gods of Indochine by Samuel Ferrer

The Last Gods of Indochine

by Samuel Ferrer

The Last Gods of Indochine by Samuel Ferrer X
The Last Gods of Indochine by Samuel Ferrer
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  • Paperback:
    Sep 2016, 422 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Claire McAlpine

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About this Book

Book Summary

Nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize ("The Booker of Asia")

"A sublime tale told by a master storyteller, steeped in the lore of old. Ferrer's conjuring of romantic Indochine is a journey that lures, stirring up ghosts in a wild phantasmagoria, reckoning with forces both entwined and eternal." - Angela Kan, Travel Host & Writer, The Discovery Channel

Jacquie Mouhot and Paaku the Lotus-Born are divided by six centuries but linked by a common curse. In medieval Cambodia, Paaku is an orphan whose community believes he may be a reluctant incarnation of a god, causing sectarian turmoil for the kingdom's leaders. Meanwhile, in 1921, Jacquie follows the footsteps of her grandfather, a famous explorer, to Indochina, where she becomes immersed in the tragedy of Paaku's history: a story simultaneously unfolding in the intertwined present and past, a story in which she still has a vital role to play.

Prologue

"Farther India", 1861 (Laos, Indochina).

It was hard to believe the human body could contain so much water, and yet, there it all was. Phrai twisted the cloth and watched it plop in dull patters on the ground, the pocked earth sponging up sound as well. Sweat had been seeping out his employer for weeks, and he had been at the dying man's side all the while, pouring fresh water back into his mouth with the devotion of a nun. Phrai imagined nearly half the man had been absorbed and squeezed from these rags, creating small pools just outside the hut. In another part of the world, that half of him would evaporate out of existence, but here it could not; the thick air held eternity at bay.

Phrai returned and closed the flimsy door after himself. The explorer looked like a rag doll tossed upon a bed. He regained consciousness and requested a mirror; even in dying, he didn't want to be denied the role of observer. Perhaps he wanted to put that in his book as well. ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Overall, The Last Gods of Indochine, which was nominated for The Man Asian Literary Prize, is a compelling and fascinating read. It succeeds in bringing the ancient Kingdom alive and allows us to imagine something of the society, superstitions and power structures inherent within it, which may also have contributed to bringing about its mysterious collapse. It left me wanting to, not just know more about the history of the Kingdom, but visit its stunning monuments - as long as there isn't really a curse!   (Reviewed by Claire McAlpine).

Full Review Members Only (574 words).

Media Reviews

Angela Kan, Travel Host & Writer, The Discovery Channel

A sublime tale told by a master storyteller, steeped in the lore of old. Ferrer's conjuring of romantic Indochine is a journey that lures, stirring up ghosts in a wild phantasmagoria, reckoning with forces both entwined and eternal.

The East Asia Book Review

[A] remarkable story well told. Samuel Ferrer's ambitious debut novel is a stunning work of imagination.

Dania Shawwa, Editor-in-Chief, Haven Books

Ferrer's debut masterpiece evokes the magic and mystery of a long gone civilization. This is beautiful fiction that leaves the scent of incense and sandalwood long after you have finished reading it

Time Out Hong Kong Magazine

Rationality and superstition get locked into the kind of epic conflict that is the stuff of all great narratives... an elaborate and self-assured interweaving of historical fact and keenly imagined fiction

Author Blurb Lijia Zhang, author of Socialism is Great!
Rich in style, exotic in setting and fresh in plot, The Last Gods is a beautifully told return to the colonial novel.

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Beyond the Book

The Rise and Fall of the Khmer Empire

Khmer Empire in redThe Khmer Empire was a powerful state in South-East Asia that existed between 802-1431 AD. At the height of its power, it covered modern-day Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam. Made up of 90 provinces, its capital Angkor was, at one point, a thriving city of over one million people. The empire was founded upon extensive networks of agricultural rice farming communities managed by the Kingdom.

Much of the history of Khmer society is known through bas-relief carvings of the Angkor temples (that are studied by the character and real life art historian Victor Goloubew in Samuel Ferrer's The Last Gods of Indochine) and the writings of the visiting 13th century Chinese diplomat Zhou Daguan. The bas-reliefs describe everyday ...

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