The world celebrates International Literacy Day on September 8 and to mark the occasion our intern Jessica Liang has listed some of the all-time greats in Myanmar literature.
Dagon Taya, 1919-2013
U Htay Myaing whose pen name was Dagon Taya was born in Kyaiklat Township in Ayeyarwady Division. The author led an active political life, participating in Burma’s struggle for independence and then being detained by the military in Insein prison in 1962. Two years before his death he was protesting the controversial Myitsone dam project in Kachin State. He edited O Way magazine, Sarpay Thit (New Literature) magazine and Gandawin (Classics) magazine and published Taya (Star) magazine in 1946. One of his most notable works was May (1947), an adaption of the novel Self from British author Beverly Nichols. He died in Aungban, Shan state in 2013. U Htay Myaing was recognized with the Sarpay Beikman Literacy Award (1961), Pakoku U Ohn Pe Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), and Manhae Prize (2013).
Min Thu Wun, 1909-2004
One of Myanmar’s most beloved poets, Min Thu Wun launched a literary movement during his lifetime and pioneered an experimental style of writing short stories and poems. Born in 1909 in Ayeyarwady Division’s Hinthada District, Min Thu Wun achieved a bachelor’s degree from Oxford University in 1939 and became celebrate for his portrayal of the daily lives of ordinary people and appreciation of nature in his poems. His son, U Htin Kyaw, also a poet, went on to become president of Myanmar from 2016-2018. He died at the age of 95, in 2004.
Khin Khin Htoo, 1965-present
Born in Mandalay in 1965, Khin Khin Htoo is an award-winning author whose works often describe traditional Burmese culture and the people of upper Myanmar. One of her novels, Pann Kyar Wut Hmone (The Moon Lotus), was adapted into the same titled film in 2011.
Thant Myint-U, 1966-present
Dr Thant Myint-U is a historian as well as an author who was born in New York City in 1966. The grandson of former Secretary-General of the United Nations U Thant, he has served as former adviser to the president of Myanmar and in a number of board and advisory roles. His non-fiction such as The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma and Where China meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia became bestsellers. He has written dozens of articles for magazines such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Mya Than Tint, 1929-1998
Releasing a series of novels over half a century, Mya Than Tint won Myanmar’s national literacy award five times. But perhaps he is best known for his Burmese translation of American novel Gone with the Wind. Born in Magwe Region’s Myaing Township in 1929, Mya Than Tint launched his career with his short novel Refugee in 1949.
Born Tin Tin Win in Magwe Region in 1958, Juu made a name for herself by writing romance novels with strong, intelligent female characters. Many of her novels became domestic bestsellers, popular with readers of all ages. Her notable is A Hmat Ta Ya (Remembrance), the love story of two medical students in Mandalay. The story had such an impact many readers travelled to Mandalay in order to find a character’s address. Her latest work, Chit Thu Yae Chone Hlwar (Lover’s blanket) was published in July.