Seamlessly extending from the French occupation of Cambodia to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and the current tourism industry, Laura Jean McKay’s début short story collection, Holiday in Cambodia, is a powerful portrait of a country long-affected by war and poverty. McKay’s knowledge of the Cambodian landscape underpins the collection. She evokes peak-hour from a motorbike, where ‘everything looks like bushfire, like nicotine’, and notes the forgotten landmines of neighbouring paddocks, which ‘travel like worms’ through loosening earth. In one of the shortest and most affecting pieces, ‘A Thousand Cobs of Corn’, a Cambodian woman looks down at her husband’s hands in the night, ‘which have shaken since he was a boy soldier’.
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