Nou Hach: The Emperor of Literature

Known for his book Phka Sropoun (The Fading/Wilting Flowers), Nou Hach (1916–1975) was a well-known Cambodian author. He was born in Battambang in 1916, and passed away in 1975.

Hach was the first child born to a farming family in Battambang’s Sangkae District’s Kampong Preah Commune. He began his studies at Wat Kampong Preah Primary School, where he quickly distinguished himself by being an expert reader of Sloek Rith, a style of ancient manuscript that is typically written in Pali or Sanskrit on dried palm leaves.

Nou Hach

He was admitted to Preah Sisovath High School in Phnom Penh in 1932 and later graduated after demonstrating his dedication and commitment towards his studies.

He secured a job as a judge in Siem Reap after graduation. He was an employee of the Ministry of Information’s Kampuchea Newspaper in 1947.

After serving as Prime Minister Yutavong’s assistant in 1948, he later returned to the Ministry of Information and took on the role of department head.

Phka Sropoun

His first and most well-known work, a novel by the name of Phka Sropoun, was published in 1949. The book, which was produced during the French colonial era, examines the issues with arranged marriages, which are still a common cultural practice.

Nou Hach joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1952 as the Director of Political Affairs. As Director, he visited countries like Thailand and Yugoslavia on diplomatic missions. Later, he was selected to serve as Cambodia’s representative to Vietnam and Indonesia as well as a special envoy to the UN.

He was then appointed by Royal Decree 252 of King Norodom Sihanouk as the secretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Communication.

Nou Hach at work

He joined the Khmer Writer Association, founded by Rim Kin in 1954, on January 17, 1958.

Nou Hach was married to Tan Rem and together they had eight children, some of whom now reside in the United States and Australia.

Apart from Phka Sropoun, he also wrote other fiction and non-fiction books in Khmer and many poems in the French language.  Mealea Duong Chit/Heartbreakers was published in 1972.

In addition, he made contributions to a lot of magazines, including Roum Mitt, Neary, and Reatrey Thngai Sao. In the 1970s to 1975  he wrote on subjects that were well-known at the time, including the paranormal, sorrow, real-life issues, and travel stories from France.

“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music-the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people. Forget yourself.”-Henry Miller 

Sources: CNE and Wikipedia

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