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Finding George Orwell in Burma Emma Larkin 2006 :: The Progressive Torrents Community
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Finding George Orwell in Burma Emma Larkin 2006




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2015-05-16 13:22:28


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where Orwell worked and lived, and the places his books live still. She
brings to vivid life a country and a people cut off from the rest of
the world, and from one another, by the ruling military junta and its
vast network of spies and informers. Using Orwell enables her to show,
effortlessly, the weight of the colonial experience on Burma today, the
ghosts of which are invisible and everywhere. More important, she finds
that the path she charts leads her to the people who have found ways to
somehow resist the soul-crushing effects of life in this most cruel
police state. And George Orwells moral clarity, hatred of injustice,
and keen powers of observation serve as the authors compass in another
sense too: they are qualities she shares and they suffuse her book -
the keenest and finest reckoning with life in this police state that
has yet been written.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The author, an American journalist fluent in Burmese,
writing under a pseudonym, notes that theres 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 countrys reserved
and cautious intelligentsia. In addition to Larkins depiction of the
political landscape, the book also features wonderfully vibrant
descriptions of the land and people. Larkins 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 towns 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.

From [45]Booklist

Larkin (a pseudonym), an American journalist based in Bangkok, believes
that it was George Orwells 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.


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