"Postcards," shout the hawkers in the Myanmar markets, displaying their wares to the tourists. "Jade bracelets, very good price." And then an unexpected cry: "George Orwell."
Every second hawker is flogging a cheap pirated copy of the Penguin edition of Orwell's novel Burmese Days. You might say it's the national book.
I'm just back from a visit to Myanmar, where I bought a copy in a second-hand bookstore. The military regime that has ruled the country for decades once banned Orwell's more famous novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, but it has always approved of Burmese Days because it's anti-colonial. And at a crucial point in Myanmar's slow and sometimes agonising transition to democracy, this sharp, tragicomic novel seems particularly timely.
Full story: Sydney Morning Herald
Discussion on Burmese history and culture.
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