A New Sun rises Over the Old Land
A Novel of Sihanouk's Cambodia

SUON SORIN
translated by ROGER NELSON

For the virtual launch of his book A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land (first published in 1961), translator Roger Nelson invited filmmakers Davy Chou and Kavich Neang to compile excerpts of films made in Cambodia in the era of Suon Sorin’s novel. These scenes capture the atmosphere in Phnom Penh at the time.


About the book

A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land traces the story of Sam, a young man who leaves the Cambodian countryside for the capital after the death of his parents. Once there, he is exposed to the hardships and injustice of the city’s capitalist society. All Sam wants to do is earn an honest wage, but he is constantly thwarted by those with money: his landlord, the woman from whom he rents his cyclo, factory bosses and politicians.


The city takes its toll on Sam and his wife, Soy, despite the kindness and generosity offered by their friends, who are also just barely managing to scrape by. As the country develops and Sam’s fortunes change, he realises that while the life of a farmer is far from easy, it is one that has the potential to bring fulfilment and happiness.


First published in 1961, eight years after Cambodia gained independence from French colonial rule, Suon Sorin’s A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land is an iconic work of modern Khmer literature. The novel—a singularly illuminating historical document of the new nation—offers a fresh view into a period of profound transformation in Cambodia and a region that was coming to know itself and to be known as “Southeast Asia.”


One of the first English translations of a modern Khmer novel, it is also accompanied by an extended introduction in which translator Nelson situates the author in his historical and artistic context, and points to the novel’s value as literature, as well as a resource for students of Cambodia including art historians, urbanists, and regional specialists.

“5/5 stars.”

Farah Abdessamad, South China Morning Post

About the author
Suon Sorin was born in 1930 in the Sangker district of Battambang, Cambodia. A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land is his only known work of fiction. He is believed to have died during the Khmer Rouge period.


Roger Nelson is an art historian specialised in Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art, and a curator at National Gallery Singapore.

This title is published by NUS Press. Find more titles by NUS Press here.