Fah Thai: Skyfall
South African journalist Rob Carmichael’s book, When Clouds Fell From The Sky, is a telling portrayal of the Khmer Rouge’s murderous regime. The narrative is anchored by the story of Martine and Neary, a French mother and daughter who lost husband and father Ouk Ket when he heeded the call for Cambodian nationals to return in 1977 to help rebuild the country. The author spoke to Fah Thai about his research, the people he met and what we should take away from the book.
Q: How did you meet Martine and Neary?
A: I met them entirely by accident at a Phnom Penh restaurant over breakfast. This was the beginning of 2009 and I’d just come back to cover the trial of Duch [Pol Pot’s security chief, in charge of the notorious S-21 prison]. I thought they were tourists but they’d come back here to see the start of his trial and they told me why – because of Ket. We became friendly and I’d been thinking of writing a book at that stage. As the trial went on, and eventually after its end, I decided that actually their story would potentially make a good bridge for foreign audiences seeking to better understand what happened in Cambodia.