Book cover with a colorful illustration of two girls bicycling with a basket of books, books fly out around them

Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh

by Anne Elizabeth Moore Author

Winner of The Society of American Travel Writer's Bronze Travel Book Award! In Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh, writer and independent publisher Anne Elizabeth Moore brings her experience in the American cultural underground to Cambodia, a country known mostly for the horrific extermination of around 2 million of its own under the four-year reign of the Khmer Rouge. Following the publication of her critically acclaimed book Unmarketable and the demise of the magazine she co-published, Punk Planet, and armed with the knowledge that the second generation of genocide survivors in Cambodia had little knowledge of their country’s brutal history, Moore embarked to Southeast Asia hoping to teach young women how to make zines. What she learned instead were brutal truths about women’s rights, the politics of corruption, the failures of democracy, the mechanism of globalization, and a profound emotional connection that can only be called love. Moore’s fascinating story from the cusp of the global economic meltdown is a look at her time with the first all-women’s dormitory in the history of the country, just kilometers away from the notorious Killing Fields. Her tale is a noble one, as heartbreaking as it is hilarious; staunchly ethical yet conflicted and human. The in-depth examination of Moore’s stint among the first large group of social-justice-minded young women from the impoverished provinces is told in intimate, mood-evocative, beautifully-written first-person prose. Cambodian Grrrl is the first in a series of short essay collections on contemporary media, art, and educational work by, for, and with young women in Southeast Asia. Part memoir and part investigative report, Moore’s story could only be told by her, and the result is illuminating, and vital, reading.

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Comments & Reviews


"once I got my hands on the slim volume, the depth of my passion almost disturbed me. For months after reading, I felt the book pulsing in me like a second heart."

-Zoe Zolbrod, The Rumpus


"Moore depicts the essence of a country that has suffered so much repression, war, violence and injustice. She shows us the hope and spirit of the girls and the larger society. As a travel adviser, she’s the best: She relates what the guidebooks say, and then gives us the real scoop, in unsparing detail, laced with humor."


Not an ounce of the self-righteous paternalism that often accompanies travelogues like this...Informed by her riot grrrl roots, Moore understands that impoverished first generation female university students are ideal agents of change...Moore is one of the sharpest thinkers and cultural critics bouncing around the globe today...What she accomplishes in under 100 pages is stunning, as she deftly and intelligently weaves together women's rights, globalization, democracy, corruption, genocide, ethics, and self-empowerment...DIY punk put into action.


This book is totally amazing. Anne went to Cambodia to teach zine-making to young girls and this is the awesome result—travelogue, memoir, DIY love story, political history, compulsively readable. You’ll be smarter and doubly inspired when you’re done with this big little book.


One of the most important books of the year.


In 95 pages, Moore risks more, and reveals more, than plenty of those longer books that are practically branded as "serious literature." Its emotional and intellectual honesty remind us what storytelling is for, and Moore's students are already using their stories to change their country.


The peculiarity of Moore, a former editor of Punk Planet, bringing her riot grrrl ethos to Cambodia works. It’s the basic ethos behind the DIY movement that makes Moore’s storytelling more refreshing and responsible than much US writing about Cambodia. Attains the modest yet important success of making personal narratives and experience matter to critiques of history and globalization.


A quirky, brisk, and piercingly honest recitation of one woman’s experience in a post-conflict society close to an immersive experience as travel writing can come.


Sitting down to read a dense historical book about the lasting impact of the Khmer Rouge is not everyone's cup of tea, so I'm glad Cambodian Grrrl exists to tell those stories in a captivating, conversational form.


She had just planned on promoting the power of independent media through self-publishing zines—but she ended up experiencing a hell of a lot more. This longtime co-publisher of Punk Planet mixed with the second generation of Cambodian genocide survivors, and in doing so learned a little bit about political corruption and pain, but also about the hope that love can bring. And who knew just how much learning about self-published media could inspire a community.


The best travel book I’ve read this year.