As I type this perhaps Burma or Myanmar (as it is now known) is getting ready for its ninth day of street demonstrations against the junta or military government of Burma.
Yesterday (25 Sept) some 30, 000 Burmese monks took to the streets of Rangoon where they were joined by 70,000 supporters as well as 100 Burmese nuns. The monks were armed simply with their begging bowls, some flags,banners and little else. This Gandhian-like protest has been dubbed "The Saffron Revolution" and despite warnings from the Junta that force could be used to end the biggest anti-government protests in 20 years, the Buddhist monks defiantly carried on with their non-violent protest.
I am so rooting for the monks. In this age of terrorism, guns, suicide bombers and other extremely violent ways of putting one's point across, these monks with their begging bowls paint a quaint, almost mythical picture. I so want their non-violent protests for democracy to succeed.
My grandmother hails from Burma (she and her family fled to India in 1942 when the Japanese invaded Burma). I wish I had thought to ask her more about the country she grew up in, perhaps I will get the chance to record her memories when I visit her in India next year. Until then I would like to read more about this country and its people. Can anyone recommend any Burmese writers or any books on or about Burma? Would be grateful for any suggestions, thanks!
UPDATE: Many thanks for the very welcome book suggestions, with your help I've compiled a tiny reading list of Burma-related books:
1. The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma by Thant Myint-U (History, Non-fiction)
2. From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey by Pascal Khoo Thwe
(thanks, Sanjay and Happy Reader)
3. Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin (Thanks, Sanjay)
4. The Glass Palace: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh (Thanks, Nix)
5. The Lizard's Cage by Karen Connelly (Thanks, Sharif)
6. Land of a Thousand Eyes: The Subtle Pleasures of Everyday Life in Myanmar by Peter Olszewski
7. Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi (Thanks, Happy Reader)
8. The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II by Donavan Webster (Thanks, Melissa)
9. Burmese Days: A Novel by George Orwell (Thanks, A Reader from India)
10. Smile As They Bow by Nu Nu Yi (Inwa) (Nominated for the 2007 Asian Man Booker Prize)
11.The Voice of Hope by Aung San Suu Kyi (thanks, Holly Dolly)
12. Under the Dragon: Travels in Burma by Rory MacLean (Thanks, Bint Battuta)
13.Last of the Guardians by David Donnison (Thanks, Yuva)
14. The Coffin Tree by Wendy Law-Yone
15. Irrawaddy Tango by Wendy Law-Yone
16.Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess by Inge Sargent