Katya Cengel, freelance writer and Journalism Lecturer at Cal Poly, will discuss her new book, Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back. Ms. Cengel has published in many venues, including the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Margaret Bodemer, a specialist in Southeast Asia who teaches both Asian and American history at Cal Poly, will serve as Ms. Cengel’s conversational partner. The discussion will take place on Friday February 22, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Advanced Technology Lab (ATL). There will be time for audience questions and light refreshments will be served. To explore events and previous podcasts, visit Kennedy Library’s Conversations with Cal Poly Authors page.
About the Book
Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back explores a set of lived experiences over decades and multiple national borders, starting with San Tran Croucher, whose earliest memories are of fleeing ethnic attacks in her Vietnamese village, only to be later tortured in Cambodia for her Vietnamese accent.
Katya Cengel met San when San was seventy-five years old and living in California, having survived the Cambodian genocide with her three daughters, Sithy, Sithea, and Jennifer. But San’s family’s troubles didn’t end after resettlement in California. Under the Khmer Rouge, San’s daughter Sithy had been the strong one who learned how to steal food to keep them all alive. In the United States, these survival skills were best suited for a life of crime, and she was eventually jailed for drug possession. Because U.S. immigration law enforces deportation of any immigrant or refugee who is found guilty of certain illegal activities, she is now facing deportation. Exiled follows the story of four Cambodian families, including San’s, as they confront criminal deportation forty years after their resettlement in the United States.
About the Author
Katya Cengel is a freelance writer based in San Luis Obispo, California, and lectures in the Journalism Department at California Polytechnic State University. She was a features and news writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal from 2003 to 2011 and has reported from North and Central America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Her work has appeared in New York Times Magazine, Marie Claire, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. She is the author of Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life (University of Nebraska Press, 2012). She has been awarded grants from the International Reporting Project, the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International Center for Journalists, and also received a second place feature writing Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Award in 2006.
About the Conversational Partner
Dr. Margaret Bodemer, teaches in the History Department at Cal Poly, having previously taught in both Social Sciences and Ethnic Studies. Using ethnographic, historical and critical approaches to history, she deftly leverages memoirs, autobiography and graphic novels in her courses on the history of Southeast Asia, East Asia, and multicultural American history. Many of these memoirs explore the experiences of Southeast Asians who came to the United States in the 1960s and afterward. She has conducted Fulbright-funded research in Vietnam and is interested in a variety of applied and intellectual questions regarding culture, history and identity.