« À l'entrée des Khmers rouges dans Phnom Penh, j'avais 5 ans. »
Avril 1975. L'armée de Pol Pot envahit Phnom Penh, mettant un terme brutal à l'enfance de Loung Ung. D'origine chinoise, la petite fille a grandi dans un milieu privilégié, entourée de six frères et soeurs. La famille quitte la capitale en toute hâte et erre de village en village, se faisant passer pour des paysans analphabètes, avant d'être contraints de se séparer, sans espoir de retrouvailles.
Enrôlée en tant qu'« enfant-soldat », la fillette connaîtra la famine, la torture, les camps de travail et toutes les humiliations engendrées par le totalitarisme. Son témoignage nous plonge au coeur d'une des plus grandes tragédies du XXe siècle, qui a décimé plus d'un quart de la population cambodgienne.
In 1980, at the age of ten, Loung Ung escaped a devastated Cambodia and flew to the US as a refugee. She and her eldest brother, with whom she escaped, left behind their three surviving siblings, and her book is alternately heart-wrenching and heart-warming, as it follows the parallel lives of Loung and her closest sister, Chou, during the 15 years it took for them to be reunited. Their two worlds were very different, and Loung's depiction of the contrast between her life in the affluent West and that of her sister, who navigated her way through landmine-strewn fields and survived raids by the Khmer Rouge, is laced with the guilt she feels about being the lucky one. This powerful story helps us to understand what happens when a family is torn apart by politics, adversity and war. It is also the compelling and inspirational tale of a remarkable woman.
A major film, co-written and directed by Angelina Jolie Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights and being cheeky to her parents.When Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Loung's family fled their home and were eventually forced to disperse to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier while her brothers and sisters were sent to labour camps. The surviving siblings were only finally reunited after the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia and started to destroy the Khmer Rouge.Bolstered by the bravery of one brother, the vision of the others and the gentle kindness of her sister, Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life.First They Killed My Father is an unforgettable book told through the voice of the young and fearless Loung. It is a shocking and tragic tale of a girl who was determined to survive despite the odds.