Author gives talk at CHS


Ratner read dramatic excerpts from her novel to the CHS crowd.

By Ilana Berger, Online News Editor

Members of the CHS community listened as Potomac parent Vaddey Ratner discussed her best-selling novel, Under the Shade of the Banyan, on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.


The Winston Churchill High School Educational Foundation (WCHSEF) was responsible for organizing the event. The foundation is non-profit and provides funds and grants for educational activities that are not funded by MCPS.

According to WCHSEF chair Laura Seigal, one of last year’s board members contacted the publishing company Simon and Schuster to ask if Ratner would be interested in speaking at an event sponsored by the WCHS Educational Foundation.”


Ratner’s book is an account of the tragic reign of the Khmer Rouge which resulted in the deaths of more than 1.7 million Cambodians. It is told through the eyes of a 7-year-old girl named Raami.


As a survivor of the reign herself, Ratner, a native Cambodian, explained how she incorporated her experiences and the collective memory of other Cambodians into this fictional work.


The audience of about 40 also listened to Ratner read passages from the novel that captured the peacefulness and spirituality of Cambodia pre-Khmer Rouge, as well as the violence and emptiness that followed.

“The feedback that I received from people who attended was very positive, both among people who did and did not read the book,” Siegel said. “One of the students said she wanted to suggest the book to her AP English teacher and class to read this year.”