Reprint of iconic author’s lost book after 50 years

A book of collected stories by Cambodia’s legendary author Chute Kay, also known as “Cambodia’s Charles Dickens”, has been reprinted after being out-of-print for nearly 50 years.

Chute Kay is best known for his 1973 best-seller Khmouch Preay Asokay (Ghouls, Ghosts, and Other Infernal Creatures), a collection of ghost stories published by Nokor Thom Publishing House, and later his memoirs, such as A Young Boy in the French School.

However, not many are familiar with Memay Pdey Bram (Widow of Five Husbands), although it was published in the same year as Khmouch Preay Asokay and also became a bestseller at that time. That was because most of the 4,000 original copies were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge era. Even Kay, who is now in his 80s and living in Paris, France, does not have a copy.

Recently, however, an original copy was found in France by Kampu-Mera Editions, a Cambodia-based publishing house, which contacted the author for permission to publish a second edition.

Memay Pdey Bram contains nine humourous and satirical short stories written by Chuth Kay. The stories have words, phrases and messages which modern people, especially women, may find offensive, but So Phina, Kampu-Mera Editions publisher, claimed that the book was a ‘product of its time’ when it was published for the first time.

“Many readers, especially feminists, may find it hard to think some of the concepts or messages in the book are not offensive, but I think it actually reflects people’s mindset from the 70s,” she said.

Phina added that her publishing house has been planning to publish old books for some time, but Memay Pdey Bram was the first project to come to fruition.

“I am glad that people in Cambodia are now reading again,” Kay said. “Like my other books, I hope this one will encourage more people to read and support Cambodian literature.”

Source: Khmer Times