Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies. In his first full-length collection, GRUEL, Bunkong Tuon documents the lives of Cambodian refugees and explores the poetic landscape of a Cambodian America. Written tenderly, with honesty, intelligence, and occasional humor, Gruel is populated by survivors such as a boy who loses his mother to the Khmer Rouge regime, a grandmother who risks her life to steal a few grains of rice for her grandson, an uncle who is beaten by Thai military police for night fishing outside a refugee camp, an aunt who leaves the East Coast to buy a donut shop in California, a father who re- experiences the traumas of the Cambodian Genocide, a young man who discovers Charles Bukowski in a Long Beach public library, a professor who teaches about the horrors of war to college students at a private college in Upstate New York, to name a few. It's a book about memories, ghosts and haunting, personal loss and historical traumas, losing and finding home, discovery and self-invention; above all, it's a book about love, sacrifice, and hope.
Born a few years before the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia in 1975, Bunkong Tuon remembered very little of the atrocities in Cambodia. In 1979, he escaped with his grandmother and extended family to live in refugee camps in Thailand before settling in Malden, Massachusetts in the 1980s. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Quarterly, The Paterson Literary Review, Chiron Review, The Más Tequila Review, Nerve Cowboy, Numéro Cinq, Misfit Magazine, and The Massachusetts Review, among others. He is an associate professor of English at Union College, in Schenectady, NY. Author City: SCHENECTADY, NY USA