The Burmese Bookshelf

When it comes to books about Myanmar, we’ve all read the usual suspects; Burmese Days, Letters from Burma, The Glass Palace, In the Footsteps of George Orwell – the list goes on. Luckily MYANMORE is here to refresh your reading list for the year ahead with book recommendations from the literati of Yangon as well as our own team.

Glow by Ned Beauman

Recommended by Issy D’Arcy Clark, Managing Editor

“From London’s secret rave scene to the mining lands of Myanmar, Glow is a twisting and tumbling tale that includes hyper-intelligent foxes riding double-decker buses, a mysterious and beautiful Myanmar woman with a secret and a pirate radio station guarded by a dog called Rose.

Protagonist Raf, who suffers from insomnia, finds himself entangled in the Myanmar community in London and inadvertently uncovers a dark conspiracy that winds its way from South London, to Pakistan and the jungles of Myanmar.

Psychedelic, unexpected and intriguing, Glow tells the story of diaspora and discovering a home in world where the horrors of history are still alive.”

The Trouser People: Burma in the Shadows of the Empire by Andrew Marshall

Recommended by Bertie Alexander Lawson, Managing Director of Sampan Travel

“After introducing the Burmese to football while a headmaster in Rangoon in the 1870s, Sir George Scott was tasked with bringing the ‘geographical nowhere’ of the Shan States into the bosom of the British Empire.

With Scott’s colourful letters home to his mother to hand – ‘Stepped on something soft and wobbly … found it was a dead Chinaman’ – the journalist Andrew Marshall follows in his footsteps, a hundred years later.

The ‘Trouser People’ was the nickname given to the British by the longyi-clad Burmese, later also attached to the Tatmadaw. Looking at the role of both ‘Trouser People’ Marshall’s humorous narrative ignites pathos for a nation so commonly trodden underfoot.”

Myanmar Contemporary Art 1 by Aung Min

Recommended by Ivan Pun, Founder of Pun Projects and Paribawga

“This book gives a great overview of the Myanmar contemporary art over the past 30 years.”

HsaBa: Burmese Cookbook by Tin Cho Chaw

Recommended by Bo W, Owner of Green Gallery and Co-Owner of Bodhi Nava

I would recommend HsaBa as a great cook book that makes you want to eat everything inside. To me, everything is about food. In Myanmar, each different state has a different kind of food.”

From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe

“It’s the most personal story of Myanmar culture, history and politics.”

Golden Parasol: A Daughter’s Memoir of Burma by Wendy Law-Yone

Recommended by Nay Thiha, Editor of Myanmore Plus

“A moving story about post-independence in Myanmar and its fall under the military junta, as seen through the author’s eyes.

Wendy Law-Yone is the daughter of Edward Law-Yone, a publisher of the prominent Burmese newspaper The Nation. Wendy enjoyed a rosy childhood – living in a rich neighbourhood and going to a good school – she had everything going for her.

But, suddenly, her life took a new turn when her father was arrested and the newspaper was shut down by General Ne Win’s junta. Even Wendy herself was detained before she managed to leave the country and start a new life in the United States with her family.

Her father asked her help in editing his memoir. She was hesitant, fearing it would bring all the horrors of the past. Long after her father’s death, she finally found the courage to take up his manuscript. Combining her own experience and her father’s, she produced Golden Parasol: A Daughter’s Memoir of Burma.

It also tells how Edward built his newspaper before suddenly losing everything. Like other coming-of-age stories, the reader grows with the protagonist and sees things from her eyes. If you are curious about post-independence Myanmar in the context of journalism, give it a try.”

Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia by Thant Myint-U

Recommended by Min Ye Kyaw, Junior Editor

“Uncovering the history of Northeast India, Burma and Southwest China and their emergence as an economic centre, Where China Meets India highlights the cultural, economic, political and geographical issues of the time. The book claims that Myanmar is destined to play a much more crucial role in world economics and politics.

Author Thant Myint-U is the grandson of U Thant who served as Secretary-General to the United Nations for 10 years and has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Statesman. Here he explores the new strategic centrality of Burma, the country of his ancestry, where Asia’s two rising giant powers, China and India appear to contend for leadership.

Thant Myint-U also worked alongside Kofi Annan at the UN’s Department of Political Affairs and currently works as a special consultant to the Burmese government.”

Other suggestions…

Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

Based on the true story of the author’s mother and grandparents, Miss Burma follows one family in Myanmar from the time of the British Empire until present day. The family fights to find safety during the events of World War II, the Japanese Occupation, the rise of Aung San and the start of the longest civil war in history.

Have Fun in Burma: A Novel by Rosalie Metro

A new addition to the coming-of-age novels set in Myanmar, Have Fun in Burma tells the story of 18-year-old American Adela Frost who visits the country to teach English in a monastery. She soon learns that not all is as tranquil as it seems and finds herself weaving a tangled web to try to help those in need.

Under the Dragon: A Journey Through Burma by Rory MacLean

Traveling from Yangon to Mandalay, to Bagan and the Golden Triangle, author Rory MacLean shares the stories of the people he encounters on his journey through Myanmar, from freedom fighters to farmers.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hello Myanmore,

    I’m contacting you to see if you would be interesting in making my novel, Kokang, available for sale. Here’s the thing, about 18 months ago I contracted with Dr. Than Thaw Kaung of the Myanmar Book Centre to market my book. The arrangement was that I pay US$2,750 to print 500 copies. I made the payment and the books were published with the understanding that the books would be placed in local book stores, tourist hotels, and airports. I do not know if this was done since I live in California and have no way to check it out. However, very little, if any, promotion was carried out and barely a couple of dozen copies have sold.

    As far as I know, the books are sitting in a storehouse somewhere, presumably on the Centre’s premises. These books are legally my property and I can do whatever I want with them. The Centre has agreed that I can possess them at any time. But I have no way to sell them in Myanmar, and it would be financially prohibitive to ship them to the US. Hence, my contacting you to sell them in the outlets you show on your website. Myanmore could price them at whatever they wish, and I am open to any agreement favorable to both of us.

    Please let me know if you are interested in working up some arrangement of selling the remainder of these books, my guess around 475 of them.

    Thank you,

    Allen Wittenborn

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