Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau: Author News
Music of The Ghosts: A Novel

VaddeyRatner

May 19, 2017

An astonishing and powerful new novel from PEN/Hemingway finalist Vaddey Ratner.

Leaving the safety of America, Teera returns to Cambodia for the first time since her harrowing escape as a child refugee. She carries a letter from a man who mysteriously signs himself as “the Old Musician” and claims to have known her father in the Khmer Rouge prison where he disappeared twenty-five years ago.

In Phnom Penh, Teera finds a society still in turmoil, where perpetrators and survivors of unfathomable violence live side by side, striving to mend their still beloved country. She meets a young doctor who begins to open her heart, immerses herself in long-buried memories and prepares to learn her father’s fate.

Meanwhile, the Old Musician, who earns his modest keep playing ceremonial music at a temple, awaits Teera’s visit with great trepidation. He will have to confess the bonds he shared with her parents, the passion with which they all embraced the Khmer Rouge’s illusory promise of a democratic society, and the truth about her father’s end.

A love story for things lost and things restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness, Music of the Ghosts is an unforgettable journey through the embattled geography of the heart and its hidden chambers where love can be reborn.

NEW MAJOR NATIONAL MEDIA for MUSIC OF THE GHOSTS:

NPR “MORNING EDITION” — May 11 interview (Click here to listen)

NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW – May 28 review
“This story of an orphaned Cambodian’s return to her homeland does have a symphony’s elevating effect on emotion. Ratner stirs feeling—sorrow, sympathy, pleasure—through language so ethereal in the face of dislocation and loss that its beauty can only be described as stubborn. . . . Music of the Ghosts has been fashioned by a writer scarred by war, a writer whose ability to discern the poetic even in brutal landscapes and histories may be the gift that helped her reassemble the fragments of a self and a life after such shattering suffering.”



ADVANCE PRAISE

“Music of the Ghosts is a moving and often gripping exploration of the Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime and its aftermath. Ratner relentlessly shows the devastating impact of traumatic history on families and the nation, but leaves us with a carefully measured hope for insight and renewal.”
—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“Few atrocities compare with the almost unimaginable devastation brought to Cambodia by Pol Pot. But Vaddey Ratner, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, has not only created here an unforgettable vision of revolution and genocide, but also a moving portrayal of lives interwoven by loss, Buddhist wisdom and, most important of all, redemption. Music of the Ghosts is a powerful performance.”
—Charles Johnson, author of The Way of the Writer and Middle Passage

“Vaddey Ratner’s new novel, Music of the Ghosts, is an extraordinary achievement. It is deeply haunting in its evocation of place, profound in the directness with which it confronts age old questions of guilt, regret, and loss, and staggeringly beautiful in its masterful lyricism. A book like this doesn’t come around very often. I hope everyone will read it.”
—Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds

“Music of the Ghosts is a novel of extraordinary humanity in the face of unforgivable culpability. Here, acts of friendship transform into acts of rebellion, and storytelling reveals not only the past, but this moment in which we are living. Vaddey Ratner speaks to the choices confronting all of us, and she does so with compassion, forewarning and courageous wisdom.”
—Madeleine Thien, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize and author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing

“A powerful examination of the burdens of survival. Ratner writes with precision and lyricism about lives damaged in one of the darkest episodes in history—the Cambodian genocide. A timely, redemptive work.”
—Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters and The Forgetting Tree