Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes

Hachette Audio. Feb. 2024. 10:58 hrs. ISBN 9781668637029. $27.99. MEMOIR
Activist Nguon, assisted by writer and public radio producer Kim Green, offers a fierce debut memoir, recounting the hunger, insecurity, and loss she experienced after Pol Pot’s ascension to power. Nguon, the daughter of a Cambodian father and a Vietnamese mother, grew up in Battambang, Cambodia, living comfortably until the 1970s, when Cambodia became increasingly unsafe for people of Vietnamese descent. Forced to flee to Saigon in 1975, Nguon lost her mother and siblings, her home, and her livelihood. Later, she spent years in Thai refugee camps before returning to Cambodia and opening a center to support Khmer women, by providing education, medical care, and job training. Throughout unthinkable hardships, Nguon was sustained by memories of family recipes, 20 of which are recorded here. Nguon’s daughter, Clara Kim, narrates her mother’s story with a measured, lyrical tone that perfectly matches the author’s words. Kim skillfully conveys Nguon’s range of emotions, many of which are tied to the recipes she shares—wistful delight at remembering her mother’s fish amok, pointed reproach in her recipe for Go-Home Rice, and the exquisite relief of tasting a simple Cambodian noodle soup.
VERDICT A gracefully told portrait of resilience, enhanced with recipes that are both mouthwatering and evocative.
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