Somsy Camvan hard at work.
Dewittville’s own has been hard at work wrapping up his third work, The American Ghost, just in time for the holiday season.
Officially released on December 10th, local Somsy Camvan has completed his third novel, The American Ghost. Camvan’s new book is about the crash of a jet plane into a small village in northern Laos, and the death of its pilot, Tom. The story goes deeper, following the life of Thamu, a young man living in the village that fights to keep the pilot’s remains local, as he believes that Tom’s ghost has become part of his family, providing Thamu with a much-needed authority figure. “American Ghost is a study in human error, misunderstanding, ego and the heartbreak that is surrounded by unusual happenings. It is representative of a close-mindedness that can occur in any culture, and it underlines the lack of honour in police forces and unscrupulous and mercenary individuals who use their positions of power to their own end,” reads Camvan’s synopsis.
According to his publisher, 8th House Publishing, the book is about “an American jet fighter pilot who is shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. Twenty years later, his body is found. An American team travels to the jungles of Laos to recover the remains of the pilot for burial at home. But upon arriving, they must deal with corrupt government officials, a police chief out on a personal vendetta and suspicious, reluctant villagers who believe it is their sacred duty to conceal the remains of the pilot from them.” While the tale is fictional, the intricate attention to detail found throughout the book can be credited to Camvan’s first-hand experience as a Laotian.
Camvan’s own story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Of the reclusive Khmu tribe of the Laos mountains, Camvan was separated from his parents when he was only nine years old. Ripped from the protection of his kin, he was sent into military training, never to see his family again. He went on to become a front line reporter in Laos, but the state of war in his country eventually forced him to seek out a new home. Camvan first arrived in Canada in 1980, sponsored by The Missionary Church of Kitchener, Waterloo. Holding a degree in Western Civilization, History and Communications from a Lao university provided him with a base in English, which was helpful as he settled into life in Canada. Later on, Camvan and his wife decided to join members of his wife’s family who had already settled in the Chateauguay Valley. But Camvan wanted to further his studies—his only obstacle was his English. Luckily for him, local Jim Dawson helped Camvan master the English language enough to attend university, which was a great source of encouragement for Camvan. At 39 years, Camvan enrolled at Montreal’s Concordia University, opting to major in English Literature. This was about the time that Camvan began working on his first book, The Blanket Coffin. In 2011, this novel was followed by a sequel, The Other Side of Mai Kong.
Camvan writes every day, for about four to six hours. At the moment, he’s working on two novels. His books are based on an incredible amount of research. “My work is based much on my experiences—but it is important to report, to be objective,” said Camvan when asked about his writing. “I don’t think about money, or prejudice,” he added. As for his newest publication? “I consider this book to be more than a story—it is educational for the reader,” says Camvan.
The American Ghost is available for sale through his publisher’s website www.8thhousepublishing.com, or through Camvan himself, who can be reached at email@example.com. Or if readers prefer, the novel will be available through major retailers in the next couple of weeks.