THE DEAD EYE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

A GRAPHIC MEMOIR OF MODERN SLAVERY

Excellent drawing accompanies a remarkable story of persistence—and yet the artist still has trouble making a living in his...

A harrowing graphic memoir by a Cambodian survivor of human trafficking.

As a boy, Prum loved drawing and showed obvious talent. “One of my first memories is of drawing pictures of Bruce Lee in the dirt in front of our house,” he writes, a memory captured in finely etched detail toward the beginning of his powerful memoir. As a teenager, he had run away from his boyhood home, determined to escape the brutalities of his stepfather. Since there was no money in drawing, Prum became a soldier and then a monk. Discovering that life in the monastery didn’t suit him, and realizing art alone could not support him, he found work harvesting crops. There he met his wife, and soon she became pregnant, forcing the author to find more reliable work to support his family. He learned about a better-paying opportunity within the Thai fishing industry, but by the time he boarded his ship, he realized that instead of finding the higher pay the middle man had promised, he had been sold into slavery. He wouldn’t see his wife or even his native Cambodia again for five years: “Three years and seven months on a boat, four months on the plantation, one month in the hospital, and eight months in Malaysian police stations and jails.” On the boat, he witnessed a decapitation and other slaves thrown overboard when they were too sick to work. His escape to Malaysia led him to corrupt police who resold him to work on the plantation, where the owner was protected by the legal system. He was incarcerated “for illegal migration” before he agreed to lie to clear the plantation owner and returned home to a wife who didn’t recognize or believe him—until he rendered this graphic account. “And so I drew my way back into my family home,” he explains.

Excellent drawing accompanies a remarkable story of persistence—and yet the artist still has trouble making a living in his native Cambodia, while human trafficking on land and sea continues to flourish.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60980-602-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Seven Stories

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview