Read Your Way Around the World invites you to Myanmar.
In our list of novels featuring largely in Myanmar, or Burma, the only author who is actually Burmese is Wendy Law-Yone. Law-Yone spent her childhood in Rangoon where her father founded The Nation, a newspaper established in 1948 after a century of British rule. She writes about her father in The Guardian describing her childhood memories of the newspapers and her father’s time as a political prisoner.
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (M)
by Jan-Philipp Sendkar.
Upon discovering a love letter written to a Burmese woman by her missing husband, she and her daughter Julia travel to the woman’s village to learn more about his past. Julia learns that her blind father was considered to be cursed and was abandoned by his mother. As a teenage he meets Mi Mi whose misshapen feet leave her unable to walk. They loved and supported one another in this tragic romance.
Border Run (M)
by Simon Lewis.
Will and Jake, backpackers, so on a guided tour of the Burmese jungle for the less than laudable purpose of seeking encounters with tribal women. Tour guide Howard has a different agenda and Will and Jake find themselves pitted against one another armed with crossbows. Not only is their friendship torn apart, but they find that their comfortable lives are descending into depravity.
The Road to Wanting (M)
by Wendy Law-Yone.
Na Ga faces a life crisis in a hotel in Wanting on the Chinese-Burmese border. As a child she was an eel catcher and was rescued from this life only to be abandoned in Rangoon. Her American lover had left her behind and had arranged for her to be accompanied home, but she resists this plan having no real feeling for what home might be.
Burmese Days (M)
by George Orwell
Set in the final days of British colonialism. John Flory, a white timber merchant, whose friendship protects Dr. Veraswami, whose reputation is being destroyed by a corrupt Burmese magistrate. Flory is a white European, but is not a part of the expatriate community. Orwell spent five years as a police officer in Burma in the 1920s and used this intimate knowledge to explore the themes of imperialism, racism and identity.
The Jewel Trader of Pegu (M)
by Jeffrey Hantover.
A sad 16th century Jewish jewel trader leaves his unhappy life behind in Venice and seeks his fortune in the Burmese kingdom of Pegu. There he is unhampered by people’s attitude toward his religion. He is distressed to learn of certain customs expected of foreigners which he finds to be morally questionable. In letters home to his cousin, he describes a Burma that is exotic and lush.
The King’s Rifle (M)
by Biyi Bandele.
This story describes the experiences of black African soldiers in World War II. A boy, Ali Banana, was once a blacksmith’s apprentice in rural Nigeria. In 1944 he is a soldier being led behind enemy lines in the Burmese jungle. His world is brutal, yet the telling can be somewhat funny. This is a complex novel that follows a boy through to manhood under harrowing conditions.
The Lizard Cage (M)
by Karen Connelly.
Teza was arrested by the Burmese secret police for his nonviolent protest songs. In solitary confinement he develops a friendship with a twelve year old boy who is employed to serve food to the prisoners. A simple ballpoint pen is the contraband which subjects the prisoners to torture. Teza focuses his efforts on personal survival and helping the boy escape his terrible environment.