Robert Carmichael

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Born
in Cape Town, South Africa
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Influences
Gitta Sereny; George Orwell; J.M. Coetzee; Rian Malan

Member Since
March 2014

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I am a South African journalist who lived in Cambodia for a decade reporting for radio, print and video for an array of international outlets. I now live in Hungary.

My (admittedly bleak) reading list reflects my abiding interest in two related facets - one, how people manage to withstand the most brutal and live-denying conditions; and two, why others believe it is right and proper to subject their fellow humans to such horrors.

My first book - When Clouds Fell from the Sky: A Disappearance, A Daughter's Search and Cambodia's First War Criminal - reflects that interest. Through five lives, it looks at five decades of Cambodia's recent history to explain what happened under Pol Pot's brutal Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79) and why.

I've often w
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Robert Carmichael The best advice I ever read about writing was in a Paris Review article - it was an interview with Ray Bradbury (it's a great interview, btw, and free…moreThe best advice I ever read about writing was in a Paris Review article - it was an interview with Ray Bradbury (it's a great interview, btw, and free to read online). In that interview, Bradbury wasn't replying to a question about writer's block, but his answer surely applies to it. Given that I can't possibly do better than him, I'll just post his answer here:

"Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year."

In other words, just write. Write your way through it. Other solutions include going for a walk or - for the Hemingway types - hitting the bottle.

I'm more of a fan of the Bradbury approach. Just keep writing. Even if it's terrible you can always rework it during the editing process.
(less)
Robert Carmichael Not answering to anyone else.

The freedom that writing brings is wonderful. Scary, sometimes, given that we all have to eat and of course to meet our …more
Not answering to anyone else.

The freedom that writing brings is wonderful. Scary, sometimes, given that we all have to eat and of course to meet our other responsibilities. But being my own boss (whether as a freelance journalist or as an author) is a true privilege.

When I think of all the jobs I've done in the past (and that's an eclectic mix, I can assure you), I can honestly say that writing my first book was the most productive, satisfying and worthwhile work I've ever done. And that on its own is gold.(less)
Average rating: 4.13 · 32 ratings · 7 reviews · 1 distinct workSimilar authors
When Clouds Fell from the S...

4.13 avg rating — 32 ratings — published 2015
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Kampot Literary Festival

Should you find yourself in or near Cambodia in early November, check out the first Kampot Writers' and Readers' Festival to be held from November 5-8 in Kampot Town, southern Cambodia (about 240 km south of Phnom Penh).

It's modelled on the well-loved Ubud festival in Bali, Indonesia and, should it pique your interest, you can read more about it here:

http://www.kampotwritersfestival.com/... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on October 29, 2015 18:56

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Off the Voortrekk...
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Robert Carmichael Robert Carmichael said: " Interesting take on an interesting time in South Africa's history - the background (to the second timeframe of the book) is a court case and the rise of the National Party and consequently apartheid. (I see from the reviews on Amazon that I'm not the ...more "

 
The Corrections
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Off the Voortrekker Road by Barbara Bleiman
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Interesting take on an interesting time in South Africa's history - the background (to the second timeframe of the book) is a court case and the rise of the National Party and consequently apartheid. (I see from the reviews on Amazon that I'm not the ...more
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Pandemic by Sonia Shah
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Shah's excellent book tackles of the most interesting topics imaginable - the rapid spread of diseases. With a mix of history, science and projection (what we might expect from the future), her book is an eye-opening look at the realities and missed ...more
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When Clouds Fell from the Sky by Robert  Carmichael
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Given that I wrote this, I'm not going to provide a written review. ...more
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The Kill Switch by Phil Zabriskie
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It's a Kindle Single so it's pretty quick and easy to read. Worth getting, I think, as Zabriskie does a good job of recounting the experience of killing from the perspective of two U.S. soldiers. And as a reporter who worked in the very places where ...more
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The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
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Pandemic by Sonia Shah
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When Clouds Fell from the Sky by Robert  Carmichael
""Crisply written, elegantly constructed and thoroughly researched, 'when clouds fell from the sky' is a perceptive, often heart - breaking book." David Chandler."
When Clouds Fell from the Sky by Robert  Carmichael
" Hi Tom - thanks for taking the time to review the book. It's much appreciated. This period of Cambodia's history is indeed bleak, and I agree entirely ...more "
When Clouds Fell from the Sky by Robert  Carmichael
"This represents a good journalistic account of the time the Khmer Rouge was in power in Cambodia all the way through to the recent war crimes trials in Phnom Penh by a westerner who lived in Cambodia for the past 9 years, Robert Carmichael. It is wel" Read more of this review »
More of Robert's books…
“And everyone wants to know: Who? Why? The victims ask the hardest of all the questions: How is it possible that the person I loved so much lit no spark of humanity in you?”
Antjie Krog, Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa




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