Born to an affluent Cambodian father and Chinese mother, Loung Ung was only 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge stormed into her native city of Phnom Penh. Four years later, in one of the bloodiest episodes of the 20th century, some two million Cambodians – out of a population of seven million – had died at the hands of the infamous Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Among the genocide victims were both Loung’s parents, two sisters, and 20 other relatives.
Today, Loung has made over 30 trips back to Cambodia. As an author, lecturer, and activist, she has dedicated 20 years to promoting equality, human rights, and justice in her native land and worldwide.
Her memoir, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, published by HarperCollins in 2000, was a national bestseller and recipient of the 2001 Asian/Pacific American Librarians’ Association award for “Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature.” The book has been published in 11 countries and translated into German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, French, Spanish, Italian, Cambodian, and Japanese. Loung has been the subject of numerous television programs and documentary films for NHK, ARTE, and Nightline. Her second book, Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind, was published by HarperCollins in 2005. Both titles are widely used in high schools, colleges, and community reading programs.
In recognition of her work, The World Economic Forum selected Loung as one of the “100 Global Youth Leaders of Tomorrow.” She has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, London Sunday Times, Glamour, and more. Loung has also appeared on numerous televisions and radio shows, including CNN International, Talk of the Nation, Weekend Edition, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and The Today Show.
In 2013, Loung expanded her activism reach as one of the writers of “Girl Rising”
a groundbreaking film, directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, which
tells the stories of 9 extraordinary girls from 9 countries, written by 9
celebrated writers and narrated by 9 renowned actresses. Girl Rising showcases
the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the
Loung has shared her messages of activism and peace at schools, universities, and other forums throughout the United States and abroad, including Taipei American School, Singapore American School, UN Conferences on Women in Beijing, Against Racism and Discriminations in Durban, South Africa, and Child Soldiers in Kathmandu, Nepal.
REVIEWS FOR LOUNG UNG’S BOOKS
“I encourage everyone to read Lucky Child, a deeply moving and very important book. Equal to the strength of the book is the woman who wrote it.” ~ Angelina Jolie, actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
“First They Killed My Father is a story of triumph of a child’s indomitable spirit over the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge … Despite the heartaches, I could not put the book down until I reached the end. Meeting Loung in person merely reaffirmed my admiration for her.” ~ Queen Noor of Jordan, author and humanitarian
“First They Killed My Father left me gasping for air. Loung Ung plunges her readers into a Kafkaesque world – her childhood robbed by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge – and forces them to experience the mass murder, starvation, and disease that claimed half her beloved family. In the end, the horror of the Cambodian genocide is matched only by the author’s unbreakable spirit.” ~ Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking
“Lucky Child is a tender, searing journey of two sisters, two worlds, two destinies. It is about the long-term consequences of war – how it changes everything, annihilates, uproots and separates families. And it is about how humans triumph, building lives wherever they land and finding their way back to each other.” ~ Eve Ensler, activist, author, playwright of The Vagina Monologues