Okay, so I’m trying not to post long comments at Sadaik as the main reason for the blog is simply to provide information and news concerning literature in Burma and, well, my thoughts aren’t that important really. Sometimes though, I cant help myself and Di Morrisey’s new book ‘The Golden Land’ got my knickers in a right twist.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for new literature that showcases Burma and exposes the good and bad within the country but now that ‘democracy’ has come to Burma, it seems that anybody who has any connection, however tenable, to Burma is publishing a book on it. Indeed, it seems to be a pre-requisite boast nowadays to proudly claim in any book blurb or publishers media statement that the author has ‘visited the country several times over the past two decades’ as if to re-assure the reader that the author is well experienced and suitably knowledgeable about Burma to write a novel about it.
Di Morrisey goes even further to impress upon her readers of her historical roots to the country and the inevitable heartfelt understanding that comes with that in a recent Myanmar Times interview to push, sorry, promote her book, “I have always had an interest in Myanmar from reading books by Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, and from history. My husband was a US diplomat specialising in Southeast Asian studies, so we lived in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia,”
So, apparently, reading books as a kid by long dead authors and living there or thereabouts in the same geo-political region as a nation qualifies as expert enough to publish a work on said nation. But don’t worry, she has least visited Myanmar – apparently at the behest of her son – as the Sydney Morning Herald was quick to point out in an interview with her ‘Hands-on … Di Morrissey visited Burma to research The Golden Land‘.
Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on her, but there does seem to be a common trend emerging. Look at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival, at the last check on their website, there were 20 authors on their list but only 2 Burmese novelists. Look at the promotion from Monument Book store in Yangon for the recent import of books on Burma; not one Burmese author amongst them. It’s the Burmese who know Burma better than anyone else, it’s the Burmese authors who deserve to have their words published by Macmillan and heard in National newspaper interviews. It’s certainly not an Australian lady who once lived in Indonesia, visited Burma for the first time last year and has a mate, who knows a friend, who is a pal of Daw Suu.