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Her Father's Daughter

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  310 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
'Alice Pung is a gem. Her voice is the real thing.' - Amy Tan. At twenty-something, Alice is eager for the milestones of adulthood: leaving home, choosing a career, finding friendship and love on her own terms. But with each step she takes she feels the sharp tug of invisible threads: the love and worry of her parents, who want more than anything to keep her from harm. Her ...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published August 29th 2011 by Black Inc. (first published July 1st 2011)
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Nina {ᴡᴏʀᴅs ᴀɴᴅ ᴡᴀᴛᴇʀ}
The ending really wrapped this up nicely for me in the sense that I liked how it ended enough to rate this 4 out of 5. Truthfully, the beginning was the only most attractive part. When we got into the details about her father, I was less interested. Not because it's not interesting, but rather, on the whole, I have never been really interested in the 'before' stories of autobiographies. I'm more interested in memoirs and autobiographies about growing up in Australia. Hence why I really want to r ...more
Dec 16, 2012 Jillwilson rated it really liked it
Walking through Footscray on the weekend, I found myself looking at people and wondering what had happened in their past. I wondered how many of the people I walked past had lost family members to murder or starvation or an illness of the developing world. Footscray would have a higher concentration of people who carry these tragedies and hurts into their new lives. What made me think of this is the fact that the ‘Father’ of this story, a Cambodian man named Kuan, owns the local whitegoods store ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Humbuggle rated it really liked it
Her Father's Daughter is a really quite fascinating account of Alice Pung's relationship with her father, as well as his suffering in Cambodia. The contrast between Pung's relatively sheltered life (while dealing with her parents' concerns) and the horrors of Cambodia is quite striking. I found it very effecting, though I would like to explore the book's themes further than one reading on a lengthy aeroplane flight can provide.
These thoughts aren't very coherent now, but I have to study the boo
Katische Haberfield
A beautiful and haunting look at family and the differences between generations. This is a story of the love that binds families, and how we can love our parents but not really understand them, unless we decided to know their story. This is all about those funny and annoying and frustrating things that your parents do, and how it takes courage to really look into why they are that way, and to accept it for what it is. This is about loving people as they are and understanding how much they love y ...more
Jul 08, 2014 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Recently I heard Alice Pung speak and on a whim this week, I decided to buy this book after putting it off for three years. I'm not sure why I didn't read it sooner.

This isn't a refugee story by any means, but an incredibly moving story of Alice and her growing want for independence, and her overprotective father, whose paranoias for his family's safety are motivated by love, and fear. And with love as your primary reason, that is an argument a daughter can never win.

Through her and her father's
Therese Spruhan
Nov 20, 2012 Therese Spruhan rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written memoir by Alice Pung about her father, herself and her family; their life in Australia, her father's four years of horror living under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and his years of 'dismemory'. Having spent a month in Cambodia in 2004, seeing the devastation of the Pol Pot years on the country and its people made me particularly keen to read this book. It was interesting the way Alice Pung chose to write her story in the third person. A bit disconcerting in the begin ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it
Last night I heard Alice Pung speak at Avid Reader in Brisbane, and she really brought this book to life, as she talked about her parents, her upbringing and relationship with her mother and father and their lives in China, Cambodia and Melbourne.

Her Fathers Daughter is written in the third person and almost as a conversation between Alice and her father and it capture's their relationship in a very moving way.

Alice's father fled Cambodia to Vietnam in 1979, narrowly escaping death in the Killi
Jan 22, 2012 Tina rated it really liked it
Brings the refugee experience alive and relates it to the more recent Australian experience. I've read lots about Cambodia, but it always seems far away and happening to other people. Alice's book bought home the reality that this happened to real people - people I've met.

It's very different from her first book. The humour is still there, but not quite as obvious and on the surface. There is a lot more angst and anguish in this one.

Really looking forward to what Alice does next....
Mar 23, 2015 Ly rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed

Alice Pung writes beautifully, fusing gentle humour with resplendent imagery. In Her Father's Daughter she explores the father-daughter relationship through the context of war and the shadow it casts across generations. She touched the grotesqueries of the genocide in Cambodia with the same tenderness with which she talks of family and growing up in an over-protective household. Structurally, I thought the dive from a family friend's living room into Phnom Penh could have been integrated mor
Helen Yee
I'm not sure why Alice wrote this in the third person, but her story of trying to connect to her past, of hearing the hardships she unravels, and the quiet but determined ambition of her father, is something so many first generation Australians can relate to with ease.
Sep 24, 2012 Lisa marked it as guest-or-crosspost-review-anzllblog
Karen Lee Thompson has written a terrific review of Alice Pung's latest memoir, see
Nov 30, 2012 Quoc rated it really liked it
A remarkable memoir, it's hauntingly beautiful and the events will definitely shake you up.
Mar 14, 2012 Camy rated it really liked it
I honestly found this book very captivating. I have not read anything about Cambodian-Chinese experiences in the Pol Pot era combined with life as an immigrant family in Australia. I found this author presented well-written and acutely observant depiction of her father and her upbringing. There were parts of the novel that were very gruesome and difficult to read but such was the Killing Fields - it was shocking and terrible and so incredibly brutal. My exploration into asian-themed stories has ...more
D.A. Cairns
Feb 02, 2013 D.A. Cairns rated it liked it
It took me a while to realize that I was not reading a work of fiction. That misconception may have coloured my view. Organized into four main parts with a prologue and an epilogue, Her Father's Daughter is a collection of events, reflections, snapshots of the author's life and her family history. Not a traditonal autobiography but a biography nonetheless.

I found Her Father's Daughter interesting without being arresting until part 3 when Pung described the beginning of Pol Pot's reign in Cambodi
Meg Dunley
Alice, you have kept me awake into the wee hours of the night. You have managed to put together yet another brilliant book, a memoir, a story of you and your father. You are truly a brilliant writer.

Her Father's Daughter is a more serious book than her first book, Unpolished Gem, yet Alice's fragrant Australian, Cambodian, Chinese flavour flows so well with humour, dry wit and at many moments, the utter truth of the story that she carried me along this incredibly personal journey of her family.
Adrian P
Jan 17, 2013 Adrian P rated it it was amazing
What would life have been like if both sets of her grandparents had never left China, never had their babies in Cambodia? If it were not for the stab of poverty and the blunt force of war, she would have been born in this town, pulling along two small cousins in a narrow barrow. She would at least know the limits of her world.

P86: He [the dad] also recalled her law-school graduation. After that ceremony, everyone had gone to an enormous high-ceilinged hall, where they ate from paper plates and d
Carinya Kappler
Sep 18, 2013 Carinya Kappler rated it liked it
There is no doubting the writing talent of this author. Her cultural grasp of Australian humour and nuance, must be rare in any author, but seems more remarkable when possessed by Alice Pung who was raised by immigrant parents with little or no knowledge of the Australian culture.
This writing ability made her book readable and interesting but I found the format of her book similar to a series of well expressed individual diary entries. The light hearted introduction did not prepare me for her de
Amra Pajalic
Dec 23, 2012 Amra Pajalic rated it really liked it
I read Alice's memoir Unpolished Gem when it was published a few years ago and loved it. When I saw she had a second book out it instantly moved onto my must read list.

With this new memoir Pung is exploring her father's life in the killing fields of Cambodia and how this has shaped his over-cautious nature and influenced his children's life.

The memoir is written in third person and shifts between the two points of view of father and daughter. Pung has a beautifully lyrical style, but the real re
Feb 13, 2012 Janet rated it liked it
Shelves: chinese-themes
The opening chapters were unremarkable but once it turned to Cambodia and the events of the Pol Pot era, the book and overall storyline really took off. This is not an enjoyable read although parts of the book are funny and light in their subjects. Following a family's history from pre-PolPot through Year Zero and beyond in the Killing Fields and another generation in Australia is at times almost unbearable. Their lives in the late 70s were so far from my own easy and taken for granted life as a ...more
Stephanie Byrne
To begin with I really enjoyed this book, both the Beijing & Melbourne parts were really interesting to me & flowed naturally.

To be clear the way Pung writes has a natural fluidity to it, it's soft & gentle but constantly pulls you along in the intended direction.

Sadly I didn't enjoy the Cambodia parts as much. I actually feel bad for saying this given their content. I can't even fathom what these people went through & I am in no way trying to take anything away from that. Howeve
Karen Faria
Oct 22, 2013 Karen Faria rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
It was a great book! Alice travels to meet some of her relatives and asks them to tell their stories about the Vietnam war. These are revealed to us, and a lot of them are quite horrific. Killing of chilren, child slave labour and the starvation of many. At times the book is a little confusing as she tells so many different stories and she talks about herself in the third person, as though from her Father's opinion. A very insightful view about how it is to grow-up in Australia as a daughter in ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books for 2014. More complex and insightful than Alice Pungs first book, Unpolished Gem, Alice captures her relationship with her Dad, his relationship with his home country and adopted country, and what it's like to grow up as the child of refugee parents. Thoroughly recommend this (and her other books).
Apr 02, 2014 Jay rated it really liked it
This was a book club selection, and was one of the best we have had for a while. The tale itself is engrossing, the writing beautiful, and the issues it raises for discussion are particularly pertinent in Australia in 2014. Others have reviewed this novel in detail so my only further comment is "Read it!"
Ralph Hampson
Aug 18, 2012 Ralph Hampson rated it liked it
i found this an interesting book, it certainly takes the reader on a journey through Alice Pung's life with parents who lived through the Killing Fields - this makes for harrowing reading, as the atrocities are brought to life through the accounts of the lives of individuals known to her father. It reminded my of other books wihc have covered the Holocaust the long lasting impacts of these experiences on the 'small things' in life - which make up our everydays. However, at it's centre is Alice, ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Helen rated it it was ok
Shelves: aussie
I just couldn't get in to this one. I like Pung's style normally but this felt too remote and it just didn't grab me.
Cel Jel
May 30, 2015 Cel Jel rated it really liked it
A very interesting book, the difference of voices was interesting. The Killing Fields spoken in a different way.
Leonie Starnawski
Alice Pung’s second book complements her first, by providing the background to how her family came to be Australian, and what they had to go through to get here.

A refugee story, told through Alice’s successful first generation Aussie-Asian eyes, ‘Her Father’s Daughter’ is also a story of Alice herself coming to understand why her parents are so afraid, protective and at times unsociable.

Although moving and lovingly-written, for me this book failed to provide enough factual data to support the
May 19, 2012 Jennie rated it really liked it
This book was written by a woman my Australian sister-in-law saw at a writer's festival in Adelaide, and so she got a signed copy for me. I loved it because it combined Alice Pung's stories of Australia, Cambodia and Vietnam, all places I have recently been or live, and I would like to go to China. She peeled back the layers of her family through their stories, and came to better understand why they acted they way they did. This is one of those books I underline parts of and mark up, which shows ...more
Ruth Bonetti
Nov 19, 2012 Ruth Bonetti rated it really liked it
At first I found this a little slow but held in there as I've heard her speak at writers' festivals and she's certainly articulate. I could relate to much of her self-discovery. The interspersing chapters between viewpoints of father and daughter works well. The story of her father's escape from Cambodia is certainly gripping though Pung's own visit to the killing fields seemed something of an anticlimax, perhaps largely because such places are built over by subsequent generations. I will certai ...more
Wendy Bridges
Jun 21, 2014 Wendy Bridges rated it really liked it
Maybe 4.5
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Alice was born in Footscray, Victoria, a month after her parents Kuan and Kien arrived in Australia. Alice’s father, Kuan - a survivor of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime - named her after Lewis Carroll’s character because after surviving the Killing Fields, he thought Australia was a Wonderland. Alice is the oldest of four - she has a brother, Alexander, and two sisters, Alison and Alina.

Alice grew u
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“Love was a verb with a certain amount of energy attached to it - a daily quota - and you had to choose on whom you wanted to spend this energy. That was love. That was why people had to pray for it. If it were not finite, no one would pine for love in their lives - they would just wait to receive or learn to give.” 8 likes
“Love was like notches on a speaker that could be cranked up and down, the decibels of desire, the frequencies of feeling. Sometimes she thought that she might have cranked it all the way up and broken the dial before the music had even started.” 6 likes
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