Blog

Kachin: Stories from an Uncivil War

Kachin: Stories from an Uncivil War

Myself and my project partner, Nhkum Bawk Nu Awng have been working on this for nearly a year now and we are delighted to officially announce the launch of a brand new literature project: Kachin: Stories from an Uncivil War.

Kachin: Stories from an Uncivil War is an anthology of 12 short stories and 12 essays in the Jinghpaw language exploring how the civil war is impacting the Kachin community …

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The Last Bookshop in Myanmar

The Last Bookshop in Myanmar

Myanmar has yet to face the overwhelming and savage force of centralised, literary capitalism.  All bookshops in the country, with the exception of those owned by the state, are ‘independent’.  There are no national chains listed on a stock exchange.  No Barnes and Noble.  No Waterstones.  There is a Kinokuniya but it has not yet dared venture beyond the safety of the new International airport terminal …

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Sadaik

Sadaik

A sadaik is a wooden chest, bound in lacquer and used for centuries in Myanmar, both in monasteries and the Royal court, to hold palm-leaf manuscripts – sermons, poetry, prayers, orders. This sadaik is a hybrid site. It’s a place for my work as a writer, my books, articles, news, etc but it’s also a dedication to literature of Myanmar, a place we have lived for many years.

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Smart and Mookerdum: Hunting for Myanmar’s Lost Bookshop

Smart and Mookerdum: Hunting for Myanmar’s Lost Bookshop

It’s the second week of our self-isolation in Yangon.  Having spent the last five days digitally scanning the front covers of my Burma Book collection (just in case the worst happens and we are forced to leave them behind) and doing everything I can to distract myself from finishing the novel, I decided to solve a mystery that has irritated me for years.

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Year of Asian Reading Challenge

Year of Asian Reading Challenge

Since I started Sadaik back in 2012, it’s always been about one thing.  To promote literature in English translation from a country that had objectively suffered from the longest, state sanction literary censorship regime seen in the world since World War 2 other than North Korea … 

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Free E-book of Short Stories from Myanmar

The e-book of the Hidden Word, Hidden Worlds anthology is finally here!!

In 2012 the British Council sought to take advantage of new freedoms in literature and travel through a programme of workshops. The aim of the five-year literature programme in Myanmar was to give a voice to unheard and aspiring writers from the ethnic states …

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Arrest Warrant Issued for Another Myanmar Writer

Arrest Warrant Issued for Another Myanmar Writer

With the Rakhine non-fiction writer, Wai Hin Aung (don’t be surprised if you have never heard of him) currently serving 20 years for high treason and the ongoing trials (plural!) and tribulations of the Peacock Generation poetic satire group, comes another writer currently wanted for, well, opening his mouth …

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Khokant Culture and Literature Association

Descendants of Ming royalist’s fleeing the Manchu conquerors in China, the Khokant are ethnic Chinese who live in a thin strip of land along Myanmar’s north eastern Shan State.  Like many of the ethnic communities they have endured decades of conflict, though unlike many of the ethnic groups their language and literature has escaped relatively unscathed … 

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Where the Burmese Sherlock Holmes Lived

Where the Burmese Sherlock Holmes Lived

The emergence of a ‘Burmese’ literature in the 1910’s and 1920’s was influenced by the import and translation of western literary forms, in novels and short stories.  Though this influence has arguably been exaggerated, the first true Burmese language novel by James Hla Gyaw has been often called an adaption of Duma’s Count of Monte Cristo, in reality the two share only a peripheral resemblance …

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Writer Profile: Ko Nyein

Ko Nyein (Mandalay) is a Modernist poet and short story writer.  Born in 1945 in the city after which he takes his pen-name, his first poems appeared in the respected Moe Way magazine, such as ‘A Boat with Three Men’, and ‘A Man with a Rickshaw’ and later in the 1990’s his short stories were featured in Shwe Amyutae journal … 

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Discovering the British Council’s Library

Discovering the British Council’s Library

The British Council might be a strange place to put on a list of prominent literary landmarks in Myanmar, but its library has played an influential role in the fight against decades of literary censorship in Yangon. The British Council’s original location was in Rander House on Pansodan Street, lower block, in the 1950’s. 

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Sadaik Short Reviews: On the Road to Mandalay

Sadaik Short Reviews: On the Road to Mandalay

While many imported literary forms have been adapted by Burmese writers, it is the ‘wuthu saungbar’ which the writers have embraced and perfected.  A masterwork of the blend in fact and fiction, this particular road, begun by Ludu U Hla in the 1950s, follows Mya Than Tint on a 1980’s literary tour of the country and …

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Finding Nobel Laureates at Gandhi Hall

Finding Nobel Laureates at Gandhi Hall

Nothing about this squat, grey, block of a building would have it marked as a venue that has graced not one, but two Nobel laureates.  Once the home of the Rangoon Times, the first all-English language newspaper in Myanmar that ran from 1856 to 1942, it was also visited by the great writer Rabindranath Tagore in 1932, during his third and last visit to the city.  Apparently, he spoke and read from his work …

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Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: OS 2

Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: OS 2

A sister shop to the larger OS store on 37th Street.  This iteration opened in 2017 to take advantage of the busy foot traffic on Pansodan.  The manager, U Han Myint, often seen from the main street with a book in his hand through the open shutter space, has complete control over the shop, including purchases and sales …

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Mon Literature and Culture Committee

The Mon are the oldest civilisation in the South East Asia region.  Once a powerful empire whose lands and influence stretched across the Indo-China mainland, they are responsible for the introduction of Buddhism to the region and can attest to the oldest script in the region dating back to at least the 500’s AD … 

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Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: Book Street

Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: Book Street

As if Yangon needed to cement itself even further as a city of books, in 2017, a street of books opened on Theinbyu road on the east side of the Secretariat.  The initiative of short story specialist and current Minister of Information, U Pe Myint to encourage the city’s residents to embrace their literary heritage and love for literature …

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Myanmar Writers Association

The Myanmar Writers Association has a long and twisted history in Myanmar.  Dating back to at least the parliamentary democratic era in the 1950’s, the association, initially independent, was brought under the control of both the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Home Affairs, during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s … 

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Praying at the Siangbawi Than

Praying at the Siangbawi Than

For centuries, the Chin people, who now live in the hills that border Bangladesh and India, were animist, tracing their own oral histories that began when they left their original ‘chinram’, or homeland, a dark cave. When the Christian missionaries came, following the British imperial invasion of the Chin Hills in the last decade of the 19th Century, their first mission took root in Hakha, now the capital town of the Chin Hills.

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Sadaik Short Reviews: The Japanese Era Rangoon General Hospital

Sadaik Short Reviews: The Japanese Era Rangoon General Hospital

Memoirs are a common genre in Burmese literature in translation, and yet here, we have something unique.  Dr Myint Swe’s memoir of his time at Rangoon General Hospital No.1 is a rare and enjoyable account of wartime Burma under the Japanese occupation from the life of a Burman.

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Writer Profile: Ponnya Khin

Ponnya Khin (b. 1972) is a novelist and short story writer.  Born in Ayeyarwaddy Region, she worked at various jobs, including a primary school teacher and journalist.  She published her first story in 1993, moved to Yangon and has, unusually, written full time since 2000.  She has achieved this through an immense literary output …

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