More and more books from Myanmar writers are becoming available on Amazon, Smashwords and Kobo. Here’s five from authors from the ethnic communities:
Written by the most decorated ethnic Chin, Vum Ko Ha from Thuklai in the Northern Chin Hills. ‘Profile of a Burma Frontier Man’ is a memoir of sorts, written while he was posted in Indonesia as Myanmar’s ambassador. He privately printed the book in Bandung and intended it to be given as gifts to his extended family. His daughter who still lives in Yangon and a newphew who lives in Kalaymyo still hold a copy. The one listed on Amazon is an original though how the seller came to have it is a mystery. It seems to be in much better condition than the one I saw still held by the family in Kalaymyo.
Available in paperback and Kindle, this is Z Brang Seng’s biography of the most decorated Kachin soldier in WW2 (twice awarded the Military Cross), and Kachin chief Duwa Zau June.
Tin Maung Oo was an ethnic Chin student activist, jailed for his involvement in the 1974 U Thant riots. His execution by hanging in Insein Jail marks him out as the only known student activist to have been officially executed by the regime. He is remembered in death by an annual literary award (he was also the secretary of the Universities Chin Culture and Literature Association) and by this book, published by the family of Salai Tin Maung Oo in Canada.
Prison memoirs are popular now in Myanmar since the abolition of censorship. All of these in English are from Burmese activists from the 1980’s and 1990’s (Ma Thida Ma Thanegi, Shewgu May Hnin). This memoir, translated by Z Brang Seng is of Kachin, Nang Zing La and the nearly 9 years he spent incarcerated.
An accessible, modern academic work on the Chin people by Lian H Sakhong generally regarded as the de facto authority on Chin identity and politics (though the author has received criticism from other Chin communities for writing from a ‘Lai’ perspective).
Image Credit @ Alex Castro / The Verge