On 14th July 2007 I was scheduled for a presentation of the
Spanish edition of Zero Hour in Phnom Penh. It was to be held in the main
venue at 9.05 p.m. About twenty minutes before I was to go on, I notice that
Marta, the publicist who had worked the entire festival arranging interviews,
was smoking more than usual and pacing. About 10 minutes before show time, I
slipped away to the restroom. I was back five minutes later and Marta was a
nervous wreck. I was surprised to see about 250 people inside. No sooner had I
stepped into the room a member of staff pulled Marta and I to chairs toward the
front. A couple of minutes later Paco Taibo announced the Premier Book Award for Samana Negra 2007.
It was Zero Hour in Phnom Penh. As he spoke, Marta translated the
reasons why the book had been selected over hundred other novels. I tried to
recover from this shock, listening to the translation of Paco’s words. A couple
of minutes I was on stage with Paco, and gave a 30-minute presentation about how
I came to write Zero Hour in Phnom Penh during the UNTAC period. After the
presentation, the book sold out. Three books sold out during the festival, two
written by Spanish authors and Zero Hour in Phnom Penh.
A special note
of thanks to my editor Claudia Casanova and publicist Marta Oliva for their many
thoughtful gestures, for making all of the arrangements, including air tickets,
hotels, interviews. A huge amount of work went into this trip. An author is
lucky to have a publisher; he is beyond luck to have a publisher that shows such
dedication. Their kindness was beyond any reasonable expectation.
Claudia and Marta worked extremely hard to see that Zero Hour in Phnom Penh has become a commercial success in
Spain. A new printing is in the works with a banner about the Semana Negra
award. Next to be translated into Spanish with be Spirit
House, which will be issued under the title Kick-Boxing in
On 20th July I flew from Barcelona to Madrid, then onto
Doha, and finally landed in Bangkok on the evening of 21st July. It is good be
home. But this was a trip was one I won’t ever forget.