When Moore, a writer and independent publisher, brought her experience in the American cultural underground to Cambodia on the cusp of the global economic meltdown, she intended to share a skill that would allow young people the opportunity to archive their own stories. Instead, the second generation of Khmer Rouge survivors she worked with ended up rewriting history.
The Cambodian Chbap Srei is a 17th-century book that intended to establish a code of conduct for young women. Staunchly traditional, but repressive and frustrating, the first large group of young women in Cambodia decide to rewrite it with Moore. The year-long process culminates in a grand discussion of human rights and gender equity, and a hand-bound book for all participants. Tragically, the completed book was banned and censored in both Cambodia and the U.S. But what these bold young women learn next about when they are allowed to speak, and to whom, is chilling. In the process, through Moore’s intimate style, the reader learns that what is comfortable in Cambodia isn’t always good—for anyone.