The Disappeared

Paperback | February 23, 2010

byKim Echlin

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Anne Greves is a motherless Canadian girl and her lover, Serey, a gentle Cambodian rebel and exiled musician. One day he leaves their Montreal flat to seek out his family in the aftermath of Pol Pot's savage revolution. After a decade without word, Anne abandons everything to search for him in Phnom Penh, a city traumatized by the Khmer Rouge slaughter.

Against all odds, the lovers are reunited, and in a country where tranquil rice paddies harbour the bones of the massacred, these two self-exiled lovers struggle to recreate themselves in a world that rejects their hopes. But when Serey disappears again, Anne discovers that the journey she must embark upon may reveal a story she cannot bear.

Haunting, vivid, elegiac, The Disappeared is an unforgettable consideration of language, justice, and memory, at once a battle cry and a piercing lament, for truth, for love.

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I have often noted in my reviews that I love great historical fiction. The stories can cover a brief moment or grand sweep of time. It is simply that beautiful blending of truth and fiction that always seems to strike a chord. The Disappeared by Kim Echlin is one such story. The book centers on a single love story, the intense romance betwe...

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From the Publisher

Anne Greves is a motherless Canadian girl and her lover, Serey, a gentle Cambodian rebel and exiled musician. One day he leaves their Montreal flat to seek out his family in the aftermath of Pol Pot's savage revolution. After a decade without word, Anne abandons everything to search for him in Phnom Penh, a city traumatized by the Khme...

Award-winning author Kim Echlin lives in Toronto. She is the author of Elephant Winter and Dagmar’s Daughter, and her third novel, The Disappeared, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel is Under the Visible Life.

other books by Kim Echlin

Under The Visible Life
Under The Visible Life

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Elephant Winter
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 8.22 × 5.29 × 0.69 inPublished:February 23, 2010Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143170457

ISBN - 13:9780143170457

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Customer Reviews of The Disappeared

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful really enjoyed this book, was a great read. beautiful story
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved the poetic writing of how the story is told! In the 1970s, Anne and Serey are in jazzy Montreal whereby she grows up by a single immigrant dad, but falls for Serey hard. Serey is an immigrant from Cambodia who plays music and is free, but wishes to see his family back in Cambodia (due to civil unrest). Follow their journey together and apart with love, loss and heartache in this poetic story.
Date published: 2012-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging I enjoyed reading The Disappeared and was intrigued and thought the author's use of language and description brought me right into the novel.
Date published: 2011-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal This book was amazing i finished in a day. The characters felt so real like you've been in there spot and you could feel the hurt and pain and all the love and loss. definetly read it!
Date published: 2010-09-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a great read The Disappeared was suggested to me by a friend. What a beautiful story. I disappeared into the words of this book. Did not want to put it down.
Date published: 2010-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Haunting Novel!! This was a beautiful story of the power of love, the grief and indecency of loss, and the strength and potency of the human spirit to keep going amid dangerous and perilous conditions. Anne Greves is a sixteen-year-old living in Montreal, Canada when she meets Serey, a Cambodian who is 5 years older than she is and a musician. Immediately they begin a passionate, sexual relationship. One day Serey decides to return to Cambodia to find his family whom he hasn’t heard from in over a year. A daring decision on Serey’s part as Cambodia was suffering in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s savage revolution. Ten years pass by and Anne has never heard from Serey and decides to go to Cambodia herself to find him. Unbelievably, Anne finds him and their reunion is as passionate as it was ten years ago. Anne stays in Cambodia with Serey, becomes pregnant with his child and is excited and anxious waiting for the birth of their child. One day Anne is overcome with fever and rashes and is admitted to a local hospital. The doctor examines her and finds out she has dengue fever. What about their baby? Suddenly Serey disappears and Anne hires a taxi driver she has come to know, Mau, to drive her to another city named Ang Tasom where she suspects Serey to be. What does Anne discover? A haunting novel that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.
Date published: 2010-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not what I expected but GREAT I was expecting a much darker, detailed description of the horrors of the Cambodian genocide but instead I found this book to be a perfect example of how a good author can tell a truly tragic story without the need spell out all of the gory, terrible details. This was a well written novel, with a likeable main character who is introduced to a new world by a Cambodian student turned refugee who she falls in love with. I definitely recommend this book - I had trouble putting it down!
Date published: 2010-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful, Haunting, Melodic, Spiritual What a wonderfully written book. This story of a woman's undying love hurt my heart and touched my soul.
Date published: 2010-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful Story Exquisitely Written Kim Echlin has written a powerful story of all the dimensions of love (passionate love, love of family, love of country) against a setting that is both tragic and haunting. Ann Greves, a Canadian teenager living in Montreal, meets and falls in love with a Cambodian man who is attending university in Canada. His family sent him abroad when the Pol Pot regime made clear their intent for the Cambodian people.Ann and Serey are forced to part when the borders of Cambodia open up once again and Serey feels compelled to return to his homeland to find his family or what happened to them. Years go by with no communication and eventually Ann travels to Phnom Penh to try to find him. Against all odds, they are reunited. In many ways, this is the true beginning of their journey together as Ann discovers a changed man, a people who have suffered unbearably, and a need to make a life out of the ashes of so much tragedy. Echlin is to be congratulated for tackling a story that needs to be told (or perhaps more appropriately "felt") and doing so in a fast-paced, often poetic, and gloriously rich novel.
Date published: 2010-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW What a gripping story of life, love, and loss. This is a wonderful book. I was actually upset to see it end. It is not a true story but very well could be. I cannot say enough, the book is enchanting and thought provoking
Date published: 2010-01-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A little disappointing This book is written in the "first person" and I felt it was hard to read. It has a great story to tell - but difficult to follow.
Date published: 2009-12-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good historical account of Cambodia Kim Echlin has written a love story in the past tense that takes place between Montreal and Cambodia. The book is packed with feeling and thoughts about not only what is happening to Anne but her perceptions of Cambodian life. I believe it could be a very realistic love story.Seeing the evil of war as Anne did in addition to the loss of a child would cause anyone to never really get over it. A quick afternoon read that makes you think long after you put the book down.
Date published: 2009-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This book was excellent, Captured my attention in the first chapter, then I couldn't put it down. The author truly captures the emotion of first love, and the tragedy the characters endure for it.
Date published: 2009-08-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappeared - Disappointment Disappeared - Disappointment By Silvana Meliambro July 10, 2009 - 8:06 am I usually enjoy most of Heather's picks but this particular one was such a disappointment. It was described to be an incredible love story - which in my opinion was not. The book concentrates mostly on the war in cambodia and how it affected the people of its country. If you are interested in historical based loved stories then perhaps you will like it. I just found that all the historical details obscured the love story between the two characters. I only actually was interested in the first couple of chapters then dragged myself through to the end which maybe became interesting again in the last few chapters. Definitely not a great summer read - very boring!!
Date published: 2009-07-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from "enjoyable in a strange way" I was very excited to start this book, but found it a little slow at the beginning. By about page 50, I found it to be a little more interesting. I think the main thing that held my interest was the Cambodia/Vietnam story line. I have always been interested in Cambodia and Vietnam and the wars they have experienced there. This book was written very differently from what I am used to reading. I guess what I am trying to say, is that I enjoyed this book somewhat, but I am not really sure why. The characters were not really that exciting, what was most interesting was the historical parts about Cambodia. I would recommend people read this book, only because it is very different, but would not put it in my top 10.
Date published: 2009-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Story.... I enjoy historical fiction and therefore was drawn into that reality in this story. The "love" story is a bit of a stretch for me, however, anyone who has loved CAN imagine themselves doing similar things.
Date published: 2009-05-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A sad story... This is a sad, serious story that occurs against the backdrop of Cambodia's genocide. The style of writing is interesting and creative- (I believe it's technically "second-person"). The style of writing is very interesting because it presents all of the facts without giving weight or importance to any particular pieces- but it also seems to keep you from really knowing or loving any of the characters. The love story ends up being powerful and tragic with beautiful moments. The story is naked, stark, and awful, as exepected from a novel about the genocide. The novel breaks your heart but leaves you appreciating Kim Echlin and her vision. It was a novel that I could not fall in love with, and the dark subject matter kept me perpetually saddened as I read with the beautiful moments scattered throughout the novel not enough to distract me from the darkness that is written about so matter-of-factly. But then, that is the entire point. I am also grateful for a novel that leaves you feeling better educated on an important historical event. Definitely skip this one of you prefer lighter reading material. It says on the back cover that she draws her characters with unsentimentalized strokes- I could not agree with this more. A facinating experiment in creativity.
Date published: 2009-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Beautiful Blending of Truth and Fiction I have often noted in my reviews that I love great historical fiction. The stories can cover a brief moment or grand sweep of time. It is simply that beautiful blending of truth and fiction that always seems to strike a chord. The Disappeared by Kim Echlin is one such story. The book centers on a single love story, the intense romance between Anne and Serey and is set against one of the most tormented moments in human history: Cambodia under the reign of Pol Pot. Anne is a high school senior when she falls in love with the slightly older and exotically charismatic Serey who is in exile from his beautiful Cambodia. Their romance begins in a small café in Old Montreal, moves through intense exploration and love making. But Serey cannot stay with his new life. Compelled to discover the fate of his parents and friends, Serey knows he must pull himself from the passion he feels and return to his home. He promises he will be in touch, and, at the right moment, they will reunite forever. But once gone, Anne never hears from Serey despite endless letters and efforts to reach him. Years later, unable to bring closure to her feelings, Anne goes to Cambodia to search out the man she knows is the love of her life. Woven beautifully into her story of love rediscovered -- in language which is both poetic and heartbreaking -- are the unspeakable horrors wrought by the now retreated Khmer Rouge. As Anne works to understand the man who becomes the father of her child, and all that is Cambodia, we come to learn how easy it is to allow distance and the burdens of truth to insulate us from bearing witness to war and its aftermath. But as Anne herself says, “If we live long enough, we have to tell, or turn to stone inside.” From its first page, The Disappeared takes us into the land of kings and temples, fought over for generations. It reveals the forces that act on love everywhere: family, politics, forgetting. This is a story that will embrace you from the first page and stay with you like a good wine. Quotes from Reviews: Literary Review of Canada - “Kim Echlin creates sentences beyond our imagining” Books in Canada- “Stylistically assured, entirely captivating...”
Date published: 2009-04-23

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Editorial Reviews

"An elegiac, beautifully told memory-tale of obsessive love. ... On one level, the novel is a young Canadian woman’s bildungsroman; on another, a profoundly moving account of the genocidal horrors of the Cambodian killing fields and its terrible aftermath. Written in elegant, spare prose, The Disappeared confronts one of the most painful conflicts of our time; the collision between our private, personal desires and the brutal, dehumanizing facts of modern history.” - Jury, Scotiabank Giller Prize 2009"Echlin's masterful novel of meetings, partings and cross-cultural love...Precise expressive... Powerfully vivid...Luminous...A complex expression of annihilating loss and eternal love that is best experienced, in a sense, like the final act of a tragic play: as something inevitable and beyond the calculations of reason. " - The Globe and Mail"Echlin, one of Canada's finest prose stylists, approaches her subject with the delicacy and solemnity it deserves... A beautiful work of art . . . The Disappeared is an expert novel, which manages to penetrate to the aching core of the Cambodian tragedy.” - National Post“Like her passionate narrator, Anne Greves, Echlin is not afraid to risk everything in this aching, heart-wrenching novel of young love aligned against human atrocity...A slender book of remembering, The Disappeared is unforgettable.” - Sheri Holman, author of The Mammoth Cheese"Powerful and moving." - The Times (UK)"Electrifying... The voice is singular and arresting. . . . This is a very sensual book, written in an aroused but taut and plain prose...Echlin's heroine is a risk-taker; so, on the literary level, is Echlin...Through [her] technical and stylistic virtuosity, allied with elliptical narrative brilliance, Echlin raises Anne's climactic ritual action to a level of tragic sublimity." - The Guardian (UK)“The beautifully spare narrative is daringly imaginative in the details. . . . Echlin creates a sorrowfully compelling world . . . [in this] powerful, transcendent love story.” - Publishers Weekly“The familiar tale of star-crossed lovers is revisited with gripping immediacy and compelling freshness in Kim Echlin’s The Disappeared. Writing with sensuality, yearning, and in a voice readers will not soon forget, Ms. Echlin reminds us of the potency of our first loves, and of their enduring ability to shape and haunt us.” - Stephanie Kallos, author of Broken For You and Sing Them Home"A beautiful elegy...Anne Greaves' story unfolds slowly, in spare and moving prose through fleeting moments and in floods of memory." - Winnipeg Free Press“A dance of words . . . [full of] beauty, grace, sensuality and power. . . . In what is a seemingly impossible feat, the form is carved perfectly to the task—the book balances on the beauty. . . . Echlin is able, by imagination and art, to take the reader on a journey...that travels into utter darkness but does not leave us in despair. . . . Echlin has wrought a work of singular beauty, a work which turns ‘human cruelty’ into the image of a particle of dust by a lover’s cheek, into the rhythm of the sentences that carry knowledge of the world so all may witness.” - The Chronicle Herald (Halifax)"Despite everything written about Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia, it is still possible to be deeply shocked by the stories of two million who died in the killing fields, were tortured or simply disappeared... Echlin has written a love story that exposes in terrible detail the consequences for generations of Cambodians living through 'Year Zero'...An ambitious novel.” - The Independent (UK)"Written with singular elegance, a polished, poetic, deeply affecting novel from a writer in impressive control of her craft." - The London Free Press“Daring... Finely chiseled prose . . . Undeniably beautiful . . . [With] moments of genuine tension and power.” - The Telegraph (UK)"A poignant love story and a memorable journey through a nation’s troubled past... Of all the tensions Echlin successfully negotiates in her novel — loss and recovery, betrayal and forgiveness, Eastern atrocity and Western indifference — the intersection of memory and language is the most nuanced.... Direct and devastating. She finds small acts of grace and dignity amid the suffering, and in this novel, it is these quiet gestures that speak the loudest. " - The Walrus"[Echlin] renders the numerous Cambodians...with a vividness and urgency...The real story of The Disappeared is the author's longing to bear witness to buried lives...Echlin succeeds, bringing to her work...the 'infinite attentiveness that is love'" - The Gazette (Montreal)“The impossibility of closure after great crimes, no matter how many tribunals and truth-and-reconciliation commissions we may launch, is the subject of Kim Echlin’s absorbing new novel... The Disappeared takes its place with such other chronicles of female desire as Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept or Pauline Reage’s The Story of O, here yoked to a history that makes it both larger and more keen" - Times-Colonist (Victoria, BC)"A beautiful work of art. . . The Disappeared presents desire as an antidote to despair.” - Ottawa Citizen"Remarkable...Radiant...Echlin manages to juxtapose the horrific depravity of the Pol Pot era and its brutal successor against the power and resilience of individual human courage." - The Calgary Sun"Echlin's pristine prose–there's a poet in there somewhere—evokes the pull of eros as Anne searches for the man she loves in one of the world's most dangerous places. But Echlin is equally skilled at portraying the effects of trauma on the human spirit...The Disappeared does go to poetic lengths to come to grips with events too terrible to contemplate calmly." - NOW Magazine (Toronto, ON)"Terrific...Well-crafted and moving...With her spare¿and unsparing ¿ prose, Echlin does a stellar job of communicating the enormity of the Cambodian genocide through the prism of the personal." - Edmonton Journal"[A] moving enigmatic story." - More (Toronto, ON)"[Echlin] summons the swirling passions of unfettered love, the blank panic of all-consuming grief and the devastating after-effects of holocaust ...with unsettling precision, making this novel a painfully emotional journey." - Metro (UK)"Echlin has a vivid style all her own...Spare...Poetical...It's a story which will live long in the memory, as much for the way Echlin writes as for the subject matter." - Newham Recorder (UK)