George Chigas

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The revival of Cambodian literature in the aftermath of Democratic Kampuchea has lagged far behind other Cambodian art forms. In contrast, dance and music have quickly resumed their place at the forefront of Cambodian art and culture. There is also an active visual arts scene in Phnom Penh. Sadly, literary production is still struggling to pick up from where it left off since its demise under DK. There are many good reasons for this. Most important is the fact that literary genres such as the novel and short story are relatively new to Cambodia. After their first appearance in the 1930s, these western genres were not widely produced until the 1950s and 1960s, following the creation of the Khmer Writers Association and the development of a Khmer literature curriculum in the national educational system. Building on the work of the founders of modern Cambodian literature, such as Kim Hak and Nou Hach, a new generation of highly motivated, nationalistic writers produced hundreds of novels and literary surveys for the benefit of Cambodia’s growing readership and students of literature. Of course, this all came to an end in the 1970s.

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