Showing posts with label Myanmar/Burma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Myanmar/Burma. Show all posts

Saturday 26 February 2022

“Who Dare Say?” Reading voices of witness from Burma/Myanmar in a time of war

On Thursday, as aerial photographs began to circulate of long columns of cars leaving Kyiv, their precious cargo of human life appearing painfully small from the sky, two poems came to mind. The first I had seen being shared online by concerned friends and fellow writers, a collective cry of despair and moral culpability – ‘We Lived Happily During The War’, by Odessa-born poet Ilya Kaminsky. And the other, ‘Burma’s Siberia’, I had just read in picking off new shoots will not stop the spring, a new anthology of witness poems and essays from Burma/Myanmar published last month. 

'Burma’s Siberia’ is dedicated to K Za Win, one of two poets killed when the military opened fire on civilian protestors last March. Another poet Khet Thi, who had read a rousing poem at K Za Win’s funeral, was later abducted from his home, and died in police custody. This poem was written less than two weeks after K Za Win’s death, as the wider literary circle was still reeling from a series of losses. Its author, Kyi Zaw Aye, was a friend of K Za Win’s who had hosted him in his house the night before he was shot. “Never once / the world is on our side”, it begins, “We unfurl our own flag / we unfurl our own sail / always against the wind”. 

Sunday 29 September 2019

Indie Spotlight - Myanmar - A Daughter's Promise - Ann Bennett

In my first blog post as Indie Spotlight contributor, I wrote about The Foundling’s Daughter, set partly in India in the days of the British Raj. This was my first foray into self-publishing. Since publishing the book through my own Andaman Press in December 2018, I’ve learned marketing through trial and error and the book has been more successful than I could have hoped – staying in the top 10 of Historical Asian fiction category on, and the top 20 in the same chart on Sales have tailed off lately, but have led to a two-book publishing deal with mainstream digital publisher  Bookouture. The book will be published (freshly edited and under a new title – yet to be revealed) for pre-order in December 2019, publication date February 2020.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Backlist books: Burmese Days by George Orwell

Backlist books is a column by Lucy Day Werts that focuses on enduring, important works from or about Asia.

This post is about Burmese Days, the story of an Englishman living in a remote town in Burma where the European Club’s members can almost be counted on one hand. The novel communicates an anti-colonial message by showing the colonists to be proud, ill-mannered, idle, drunk, driven by greed and ultimately self-destructive.

Burmese Days is not as well-known as the dystopian novel 1984 or the allegorical novella Animal Farm, but comes from the same sharp pen. The world depicted in the novel, Orwell’s first, is ugly and dark but occasionally reveals moments of great beauty.

See below to find out what you need to know to decide whether you should read Burmese Days, or what you should know about it even if you never do!

Thursday 24 May 2018

Backlist books: Not out of Hate by Ma Ma Lay

Backlist books is a column by Lucy Day Werts that focuses on enduring, important works from or about Asia.

This post is about Not out of Hate, an allegorical tale of a young Burmese woman in an unhappy marriage with a westernised Burmese man. Often compared with George Orwell’s Burmese Days, it communicates an anti-colonial message from the point of view of the local Burmese.

The book can be read as the story of one dutiful young woman’s relationship with her overbearing husband—or as an allegory for her country under British rule.

Published in 1955 in Burmese under the title Mon Ywe Mahu, it won a national literary award and sold many copies. Decades later, in 1991, it became the first Burmese novel to be translated into English and published outside the country.

See below to find out what you need to know to decide whether you should read Not out of Hate, or what you should know about it even if you never do!

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Q & A: Rena Pederson / The Burma Spring

The Burma Spring, by award-winning journalist and former US State Department speechwriter Rena Pederson, is a biography of Aung San Suu Kyi.  It offers a portrait of the woman herself, and also portraits of Burma, and of the Burmese people. (Burma was renamed Myanmar by the military government, but since this was not democratically elected, Western policy has often been to refer to the country as Burma. Rena adopts this policy too.)

Saturday 28 March 2015

Irrawaddy Literary Festival Starts Today

The 3rd Irrawaddy Literary Festival starts today.

Check out the website here.

Check out the Facebook page here.

If you happen to be visiting the Festival, and you'd like to write about it for the blog, then let me know!  (Email:

Thursday 19 March 2015

Clarification from Rena Pederson

Rena Pederson, author of The Burma Spring, has been in touch to point out that in her book's Quick Notice I mentioned  that she used the term Burma throughout, although the country's name has been changed to Myanmar. However, I failed to mention she addressed this issue in the following editor's note: 

In 1989, Burma’s military rulers changed the official English name of the country from “the Union of Burma” to “the Union of Myanmar.”And in 2010, they changed it once more to “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar.”Some countries—including the United States and the United Kingdom—continued to use the country name Burma because the military government that changed the name to Myanmar was not elected democratically. Since there is now a quasi-civilian government in place, the growing trend has been to use the Myanmar nomenclature around the world. Because it was still the U.S. State Department policy to continue using the country name Burma at the time of this book’s writing, that is the term used predominantly here. Myanmar is also used where appropriate.

Rena has provided an e-mail interview for Asian Books Blog, which will be posted on Tuesday, 31 March.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Quick Notice / The Burma Spring: Aung San Suu Kyi and the New Struggle for the Soul of a Nation by Rena Pederson

Aung San Suu Kyi has been an inspiration around the world, but even in Asia relatively little is known about this strong, mysterious woman.  Though she’s been on the cover of Time magazine, and has won the Noble Peace Prize, her life, and the country she has fought so hard for, still too-often remain shrouded in secrecy and misinformation. Award-winning journalist and former US State Department speechwriter Rena Pederson brings to light fresh details about the woman, the country and the Burmese people.