The Rent Collector

Camron Wright | Fiction 2012

four-hearts

This is a GREAT book.  I am moved and hopeful.

Sang Ly, her husband Ki Lim, and their ill young son, Nisay, live in a shack at the edge of Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in Cambodia.  They make their living sorting through the trash the trucks bring every day, finding valuable scraps to sell to sometimes unscrupulous buyers.  Yes, The Rent Collector reminds me of Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers.  The Rent Collector, however, is above all, a book of hope.

While this is a novel of life and death at the dump, the story line is about Sang Ly and her discovery of literacy and literature.  It is as much a tale of the role of literature in our world as it is a tale of hardship, friendship, and love in the dump.

Here is a sample of the intelligent and visual writing by Camron Wright.  “I always tell Ki that it’s a dangerous thing sending me to work at the dump, not because I’ll get run over by a truck, burn my legs and feet, or fall into a pool of toxic sludge—though all these are possibilities.  It’s dangerous because my thoughts get away from themselves.  Mixed with emotion, they pile up like the garbage that surrounds me.  They stack layer upon layer, deeper and deeper, month after month—crushing, festering, smoldering.  One day something is certain to combust.”  (pg 25)

Mary—my good friend from high school—recommended this book to me.  Once again, Mary, you are spot on.  I will recommend The Rent Collector to my book club for 2021 because it is not only an excellent and enlightening read, but also because of what we can learn about literature.

Yes, blog readers, you might want to read this book.  I recommend it without hesitation.

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