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Starred Review. The author, an American journalist fluent in Burmese, writing under a pseudonym, notes that there's a joke in Burma (now Myanmar) that Orwell wrote not one novel about the country, but three: Burmese Days, Animal Farm and 1984. The first takes place during the British colonial days, while the latter two, Larkin argues, more closely reflect the situation there today. " 'Truth is true only within a certain period of time,' " she quotes a regime spokesman saying after a 1988 uprising. " 'What was truth once may no longer be truth after many months or years.' " Indeed, providing an accurate representation of Burmese life proves daunting, as Larkin encounters a nation bristling with informants and paranoia. Her language skills, however, allow her to glean information and mingle with the country's reserved and cautious intelligentsia. In addition to Larkin's depiction of the political landscape, the book also features wonderfully vibrant descriptions of the land and people. Larkin's prose is striking and understated, and she allows the people she meets to speak their parts without editorializing. In this way, she comes across not as an idealist but rather as an inquisitive and trustworthy guide to the underlying reality of a country whose leaders would rather have outsiders focus only on their carefully constructed veneer. "All you had to do, it seemed," Larkin writes, "was scratch the surface of one of the town's smiling residents and you would find bitterness or tears." Her efforts have resulted in a lucid and insightful illustration of truly Orwellian circumstances.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Larkin (a pseudonym), an American journalist based in Bangkok, believes that it was George Orwell's stint as an imperial policeman in British-ruled Burma during the 1920s that turned him into a writer of conscience. To prove her theory and assess what imprint if any he left on the culture, she bravely journeyed throughout the now brutally totalitarian state to visit the places Orwell lived and worked. A meticulous observer, she captures the masked spirit of a people monitored by military spies and constantly threatened with incarceration and torture. As her risky conversations with Burmese intellectuals, writers, teashop waiters, and students reveal, censorship is severe, yet Burma remains a profoundly literary country as people harbor secret libraries and talk passionately about books. Writing with admirable suppleness and understatement, Larkin reports that Orwell is known as a prophet in Burma, so closely do Animal Farm and 1984 reflect what has happened in this beautiful yet tragically oppressed land. Her quest for the past illuminates the grim present in this true-life Orwellian world. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A beautifully detailed novel, with perfectly placed references back to George Orwell's work throughout - I adored reading itPublished 1 month ago by Emma
Finding George Orwell in Burma was an interesting read. Prior to this book I knew little about George Orwell and little about Burma. Read more
Orwell had outstanding insight into the human character, its strengths and weaknesses.Published 3 months ago by Donald Meeker
The book gave me a good overall picture of Myanmar before my travels there. It was interesting to see how things changes and how they remained the same. Read morePublished 8 months ago by NH
While preparing to take an extensive trip to Myanmar this past year I acquired a number of current and Classic books on Burma to get the lay of the land. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Bernard McGovern
As preparation for a trip to Myanmar I think the book helps give a good historical context of the country. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Liberty
Interesting if you are interested in getting a feel for the place Orwell once livedPublished 10 months ago by Mothlove
this book is Well researched and beautifully written
Deep background on Burma's history and culture from an interesting perspective