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Cambodian Author and Opera Librettist Releases Memoir.
Groundbreaking memoir by Cambodian author Sokunthary Svay. An unconventional collection of essays and photographs, PUT IT ON RECORD: A MEMOIR-ARCHIVE explores the past present and future of Cambodian literature.
Literary Nonfiction. Essay. Asian & Asian American Studies.
“Sokunthary Svay’s PUT IT ON RECORD surveys a wide breadth of form and expression. The collection speaks to the multiplicities of selves that each of us embodies, yet it is also a window into one artist’s deeply personal experience. It is suffused with echoes of the longing and struggle that resonate through the Cambodian diaspora.”
—VADDEY RATNER, New York Times bestselling author of In the Shadow of the Banyan and Music of the Ghosts
“Not your typical memoir, PUT IT ON RECORD is a journey meandering stories of shared ordeal of womanhood and uprooted tales told in a captivating and well written verses and poetry. It is impossible to put the books down as Svay’s uncanny ability to bring us into her world, more than just the immigrant experience but a shared humanity of being and existing. We are changed after reading her book either by connecting through her vulnerability or simply by having a glimpse into the Cambodian American world.”
—LinDa Saphan, PhD. Anthropologist, author of Faded Reels, Associate Producer of Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten and Fulbright Scholar
“In this collection of essays and musings, artist Sokunthary Svay offers vignettes of a life lived attuned to the ways the body leads us toward truths stored within our corpuscles. We are more than past traumas that bend our bodies toward survival impulses, as Svay posits in powerful prose; our bodies have the intellect and capacity for self-healing, and the chosen outlet for Svay is through song. We are all so lucky to hear the music of her heart.”
—Putsata Reang, author of Ma & Me (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Sokunthary Svay was born in a refugee camp in Thailand shortly after her parents fled Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. They were sponsored to come to the United States and resettled in the Bronx where she grew up. A founding member of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA), she has received fellowships from the American Opera Project, Poets House, Willow Books, and CUNY, as well as commissions from Washington National Opera, the Asian American Writers' Workshop, the Chautauqua Institution, and ISSUE Project Room. In addition to publishing a poetry collection, APSARA IN NEW YORK (Willow Books, 2017), Svay has had her writing anthologized and performed by actors and singers. Svay's first opera, Woman of Letters, set by composer Liliya Ugay, received its world premiere at the Kennedy Center in January 2020 as part of the American Opera Initiative. A recent recipient of the OPERA America IDEA grant, her second opera with Ugay, Chhlong Tonle, received its premiere in March 2022. She is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and an Adjunct Lecturer at the City College of New York in Harlem.