“Sophat” the first Cambodian novel written by Rim Kin

Many people consider Rim Kin’s “Sophat” to be the “first” Cambodian novel. It was written in 1938, published in Vietnam in 1941, but not available in Cambodia until January 1942. It is considered one of the three classic novels of Khmer literature.

It is essentially a poor boy/rich girl romance, in which the hero, Sophat, confronts a series of obstacles, misunderstandings, and unlikely coincidences before noticing that he is not an orphan from a humble background but rather of noble birth. The novel accordingly comes to a happy ending with his marriage to the girl he loves, the father’s adopted daughter.

Rim Kin (1911–1959)

One of the pioneers of modern writing in Cambodia was the writer Rim Kin (1911–1959). He was the author of Sophat, the first novel to be published in Cambodia and the country’s first modern novel to be written in prose as compared to the country’s usual poetic form. Sophat was first published in 1938.

Sophat became a movie in 1964. In 1935, the weekly Cambodian newspaper Ratri Thnai Saur also hosted the first modern serial stories of Kin. Kin served as the Khmer Writers’ Association’s first president from 1955 until 1957.

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