Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: OS

Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: OS

Named after its owner, Ohn Saw, OS was a pallet stall on Pansodan Street for 30 years, until opening at its present location at the turn of the transition in 2012.  Despite the sheer amount of books in the shop, the majority of the 100,000 stock is kept in various places, including in bundle sacks in alleyways, and the 1st floor of empty buildings on Pansodan Street …

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Touring the Tourist Burma Building

Touring the Tourist Burma Building

Complete a circuit of Sule Pagoda in the heart of Yangon and it’s impossible to miss the three buildings that dominate the roundabout: the Sunni Jamae Mosque, City Hall and the Tourist Burma Building.  The last of the three, on Sule Pagoda’s south side and taking up an entire city block, is emblematic of the twisting histories of the city’s grand colonial era buildings: from riches to rags to restoration …

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Are Burmese Booksellers in Trouble?

Are Burmese Booksellers in Trouble?

Frontier magazine ran an interesting article on the fate of booksellers at Yangon’s Book Street and book-selling in general the other month.

Book Street began in January 2017 with the support of author and Minister of Information U Pe Myint, to provide an accessible and open air market for readers at the east end of the Secretariat.  It runs until the opening of the monsoon, with sellers charged fees for their stalls … 

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Sadaik Short Reviews: The Sixth Enemy and Other Stories

Sadaik Short Reviews: The Sixth Enemy and Other Stories

A superb collection of 20 short stories that roam across lower Myanmar, from the capital to the coast to unnamed villages.  Ever-present in all of them are the women:  the wife, the aunt, the daughter and how their clans rely on them.  This is a collection undoubtedly of Myanmar, a voice that deserves to be joined by others in the future.

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Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: Yar Pyae

Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: Yar Pyae

The last bookshop to be found on Pansodan Street, just before the bridge rises to cross the train tracks and to the left of its more famous competitor Innwa Books, is Yar Pyae. Founded and owned by Daw Khin Swe Win, Yar Pyae opened on January 1st 1999 and is still going strong boasting nearly 100,000 books in stock and averaging 150 customers a day … 

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Delving through the Mandalay Cultural Museum

Delving through the Mandalay Cultural Museum

Though many of the museums in Myanmar have suffered from decades of neglect and underfunding, Mandalay Cultural Museum does hold a few literary gems. The Yadanabon Gazette: In 1854 Mandalay, King Mindon, a reformer of sorts and fully aware of the technological superiority of the invading British Forces to the south, commissioned the first Burmese language newspaper, the Yadanabon Gazette … 

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Writer Profile: James Hla Gyaw

Despite his prominence as the author of the first true novel in the Burmese language, too little is known of James Hla Gyaw’s life. He was born on the 21st June 1866 in Shwegyin in Bago Region to Buddhist parents who died when he was just a child.  Adopted by his aunt, he converted to Christianity along with the rest of his family and was sent to Yangon, the new capital of British Burma for his education … 

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Admiring the Sorrento Villa

Admiring the Sorrento Villa

I’ve always admired this building.  Perhaps because it stands so out of place in the curve of one of the city’s largest roundabouts, far from the downtown townships, where the crush of so many colonial era buildings can often minimise their grandeur. Though the exact date of its construction is unknown, as is the original owner, the Sorrento Villa seems to have a century long connection to literature …

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Northern Short Story Festival

Northern Short Story Festival

Had a great weekend in Leeds at the Northern Short Story festival, where Uschi Gatward, SJ Bradley and I read from our stories in the Resist: Stories of Uprising anthology.  It was lovely to be able to talk to a full room about the stories, the process and the importance of such stories in the current political climate in the UK …

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Writer Profile: Yu Ya

Writer Profile: Yu Ya

Yu Ya (1987) is the youngest scion of one of Myanmar’s most famous literary families.  The only woman in Myanmar to hold both a BA and MA in creative writing, she has won awards in interstate poetry competitions at township and state level.  She has published over 40 short stories, poems and essays for several of the leading literary journals in Myanmar including Shwe Amyutae, Thouk Kyar, Yati and Padouk Pwint Thit.  She currently works for BBC Media Action contributing to radio dramas on social and community issues.

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writer Profile: Sayar Lay Ko Tin

writer Profile: Sayar Lay Ko Tin

Sayar Lay Ko Tin (b.1947) is a writer, editor and translator.  Born in Yangon in 1947 he has spent 14 years in prison in the 1960’s, 70’s and 90’s for his political activities.  His first poem was published in 1985 in Sabei Phyu magazine and he has since gone on to publish 15 books, fiction, non-fiction and poetry, including …

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Hidden Words Reviewed by Ko Ko Thett

Hidden Words Reviewed by Ko Ko Thett

Very grateful to Ko Ko Thett for a thoughtful and detailed review of the Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds anthology:

‘The book should serve as a first stop in English for anyone who would like to traverse the complex literary landscapes of Myanmar. Isn’t it ironic that stories from the ethnic languages, which have long been suppressed, have now been re-written in the languages of their erstwhile oppressors? As far as I am concerned, this kind of irony is most welcome.’

To read the rest of the review, please visit The Shanghai Literary Review

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Writer profile: Saw Lambert

Writer profile: Saw Lambert

Saw Lambert (1941- 2015) was born in a small village in Karen State close to the Thailand border.  As a teenager he boarded in the nearest high-school, forty miles away, and later graduated with a degree in Chemistry from Mawlamyine University in Mon State.  Having been denied permission by the Socialist Government to study bookbinding in the UK …

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31 Reasons Why Publishers Need to Rethink Myanmar

31 Reasons Why Publishers Need to Rethink Myanmar

If you buy enough books on Myanmar from foreign writers you start to notice something eerily familiar about them all.  It’s not just the content, though travel memoirs and political narratives are perennial favourites and Myanmar does seem to be becoming a popular ‘exotic’ setting for romance writers …

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Writer profile: Sai San Pyae

Writer profile: Sai San Pyae

Sai San Pyae (1991) is an ethnic Shan writer born in the northern town of Lashio, Shan State.  He graduated with a B.E (Mechanical) degree in 2013 from Lashio University of Information and Technology.  He currently works as a Basic Computer tutor at the Kham Ku Centre, a Shan youth community organisation housed in the grounds of the Shan Culture and Literature Association …

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Burma Series at Hatchards Bookstore

Burma Series at Hatchards Bookstore

Britain’s oldest bookshop, Hatchards, is holding a series of talks on Burma from the 19th to 21st March 2019.

The series kicks off with a panel session on ‘Surviving Dictatorship in Burma’ with writer Dr Ma Thida (Sanchaung), poet Ko Ko Thett, filmmaker Daw Khin Mar Mar Kyi and Vicky Bowman

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Northern Short Story Festival

Northern Short Story Festival

I will be appearing at the Northern Short Story Festival in Leeds, UK on Saturday June 1st to launch Resist: Stories of Uprising along with Uschi Gatward, SJ Bradley and Jude Brown.  The anthology, out by Comma Press, is a collection of 20 stories reimagining key moments of protest throughout British history and includes my contribution on the ‘95 to ‘98 dockers dispute in Liverpool …

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Why I Almost Gave Up On Sadaik

Why I Almost Gave Up On Sadaik

Sadaik has been running for nearly 7 years now, since before the end of pre-publication censorship in Aug 2012 and the dismantling of the PRSD in January 2013.  Every couple of years, I seem to go a bit flat, as if unsure there is any point in continuing with the site.  In 2014 I took a hiatus, mainly due to the frustration of trying to upload posts on an internet connection that kept cutting out.  When we moved to Africa I took another break, thinking I would be unable to keep up with the writers so far away …

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Writer Profile: Green Maung

Writer Profile: Green Maung

Myint Win Hlaing (1981) is an ethnic Rakhine writer and teacher born in Pan Ni La village, Rakhine State.  He is a leading member of an influential Rakhine literature circle organising talks and live literature events for his remote community.  He has published short stories both in Burmese in Shwe Amyutae and Yote Shin Tay Kabyar magazines and in Rakhine language in Rakhine Journal.  He writes under the pen name Green Maung.

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U Thaw Kaung -Literary Legend

U Thaw Kaung -Literary Legend

The first time I met U Thaw Kaung, writer, librarian, collector and preserver, he sat alone on a bench under a large tree in a garden that slipped into Inya Lake.  There were other writers present, National Literature Award winners, former literary prisoners, many I knew, some I didn’t but it was U Thaw Kaung who everyone gravitated towards …

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Sadaik Long Review: Kachin Culture and Tradition in Myanmar by Rev. N-Gan Tang Gun

Sadaik Long Review: Kachin Culture and Tradition in Myanmar by Rev. N-Gan Tang Gun

One of the hopes of my book, The People Elsewhere, was to shine a light on the misconception that all languages and literature from the ethnic nationality groups in Myanmar had been suppressed by successive juntas over fifty years.  The reality is much more complicated of course … 

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Sadaik Long review: Up Close by Moe Linn

Sadaik Long review: Up Close by Moe Linn

There is no shortage of books on the market that delve into the life of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Peter Popham’s ‘The Lady and the Peacock’ and his more recent ‘The Lady and the Generals’, Justin Wintle’s ‘Perfect Hostage’, Bertil Lintner’s ‘Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Struggle for Democracy’ among them …

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