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Finding Siyin Literature in Chin State

Finding Siyin Literature in Chin State

The Chin, who live in the hills that border Bangladesh and India, like to say that Burmese literature was born from peace, while Chin literature was born from war. The first known Burmese text is the 12th Century Myazedi stone in Bagan, which lists the deeds and donations of a prince in memory of the love he held for his father and mother …

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Writer Profile: Duwa Walu Sin Wa

Duwa Walu Sin Wa (b.1948) comes from a long line of Kachin ‘Jaiwa’s’ or storytellers.  Born in Ninghpum Village, Sumprabum Township, the cultural heartland of the Jinghpaw community, his father, the head of his clan, sent Duwa Walu Sin Wa to live with his uncle when he was 10 years old.  This uncle was the clan’s Jaiwa …

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Searching for Tagore at the Guardian Press Building

Searching for Tagore at the Guardian Press Building

With such a high concentration of colonial era buildings it can be so easy to walk pass a building and be utterly unaware of its former significance to the city.  The Guardian Press Building is made even more anonymous by relatively recent cladding which hides most of its prominent architectural structures making it appear as if it was only built in the 1990’s.

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Sadaik Short Reviews: 12 Poems

Sadaik Short Reviews: 12 Poems

The 12 poems from the eponymous title have been scoured from among many of Aung Cheimt’s works, dating back to 1995 and are thematically linked to seasons.  Many are sparse, some just mere thoughts taken to paper, neither epic nor fantastical.  Maung Tha Noe, once again, has proved his talents, in an effortless translation that reads smoothly and retains that firmness and determination of intent that Aung Cheimt is known for.

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Writer Profile: U Pe Myint

U Pe Myint (b.1949): Born in Rakhine State, U Pe Myint trained as a doctor but has won much acclaim as an influential figure in political journalism, fiction writing and translation.  He has published over twenty-five books, including ‘Those Who Sell “Things” for Human Use and other stories’, a collection of short stories that …

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Sadaik Short Reviews: Myanmar in my Lifetime

Sadaik Short Reviews: Myanmar in my Lifetime

As the eponymous ‘k’ states in the prologue, this is not a book of his life but rather of Burma in the 1920’s, and yet it inevitably returns to him, and his family, his friends as they navigate a turbulent time in Myanmar, a time of literary renaissance and anti-colonial political awakenings … 

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Writer Profile: Kyaw Mya Than

Kyaw Mya Than (1930 – 2000) was a novelist and non-fiction writer of the ‘realist’ tradition.  In the 1950’s parliamentary era he wrote political articles under the pen name Ye Baw Than before joining the staff of ‘Crime Magazine’ in 1956, a popular journal at the time.  He here found the theme that would become a constant in all his writing … 

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The Standing Stones of Thuklai Village

The Standing Stones of Thuklai Village

Travel in Chin State and you are most likely heading towards the major towns, Falam and Hakha in the north, Mindat in the south (and if you are fortunate, Matupi in the centre).  But these are mostly imperial constructions, enlarged by Christian missions and colonial trade with the valleys in Burma Proper below.  The original clusters of the first chin communities are often found beyond the road.

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Pitaka Taik

Pitaka Taik

Though there are many libraries in Yangon, the Pitaka Taik – three basket – library ranks as one of the most ornate.

Prime Minister U Nu, a devout Buddhist, convened the Sixth Great Buddhist Synod between 1954 and 1956 (the 5th was held in Mandalay a century earlier and resulted in the ‘world’s largest book’ at Kuthodaw Pagoda). 

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Can Literature Save Myanmar’s Peace Process?

Can Literature Save Myanmar’s Peace Process?

In late January 2019, the Tatmadaw took control of the remote Naga region headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), an ethnic armed organisation that has yet to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. In March, 5 leaders of the NSCN-K were arrested by police in Khamti Township, Sagaing Division after attending a meeting at their liason office, a meeting organised by the Naga Culture Centre Committee to discuss peace in the Naga region … 

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Call for Translators – Burmese to English Short Fiction

Call for Translators – Burmese to English Short Fiction

This is a fantastic, paid, opportunity for Burmese to English literary translators to work on a new collection of short stories from Myanmar.  I have copied the announcement below from the collection’s editor, Alfred Birnbaum, but am wary of putting his private email contact address publicly.  So if anyone is interested please just use the contact form on Sadaik and I will pass you onto Alfred …

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Yezet – A New Collection of Burmese Short Stories in Translation

Yezet – A New Collection of Burmese Short Stories in Translation

A few months ago I made a brief post on the recipients of this year’s English PEN translation award winners, one of which was the successful funding of a new collection of short stories from Burma, edited by Alfred Birnbaum and to be published by Strangers Press in the UK …

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Sadaik Short Reviews: The Bamboo Clapper Essays

Sadaik Short Reviews: The Bamboo Clapper Essays

A collection of fifty short articles published in the mid to late 1960’s in the Working People’s Daily newspaper.  While most anthologised articles from Myanmar rarely have a thematic identity, this particular collection, compiled by Win Pe’s son, is an extreme jumble of thoughts …

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Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: Hin Lai O

Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: Hin Lai O

With publishing power centres in Yangon and Mandalay, there are very few bookshops to be found in the smaller towns across the country.  Kalaymyo, a former Shan town on the northern edge of the hills that mark the beginning of Chin State and only a couple of hours drive from Tamu on the Indian border is probably the last place you would expect to find a bookshop to rival any in Yangon.

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Writer Profile: Ma Sandar

Ma Sandar is an architect by trade and a writer by choice.  She made a name for herself with the publication of ‘Innocence of Youth’, a novel on the lives of students at the Yangon Institute of Technology in 1972.  She has gone on to publish 50 short stories and 13 novels, winning 3 National Literary Awards in 1994, 1999 and 2002.  5 of her novels have been made into movies.

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Dancing in the Manau Park in Kachin State

Dancing in the Manau Park in Kachin State

The Kachin, an umbrella term for the six ethnic communities who live in Myanmar’s most northerly state, were once led by Duwas or clan chiefs.  As well as governing their lands and the villages on it, the Duwa’s were also cultural guardians, commissioning Jaiwa’s – storytellers – to recount the epic oral myths and authorising the Manau celebrations.

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Wunpawng Shingni

Literally in English, ‘Kachin Arts’, Wunpawng Shingni is Kachin State’s first independent, secular, multi-ethnic arts organisation.  Residing in a two-storey wooden house in Myitkyina’s famed Manau Cultural Park, the whole organisation was formed in May 2013, taking advantage of the liberalising reforms of the Thein Sein administration …

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Reading George Orwell at the Strand Hotel

Reading George Orwell at the Strand Hotel

This iconic hotel was built as a wooden boarding house by an Englishman and in 1901 sold to the Sarkie brothers, the famous Armenian hoteliers, who renovated it to the structure more or less how it is seen today.  It soon became ‘the’ top hotel in the country and the first port of call for many writers who visited Burma, including George Orwell, Somerset Maugham, H.G.Wells, Noel Coward and Rudyard Kipling.

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Sadaik Short Reviews: Origin of the Kachin Manau

Sadaik Short Reviews: Origin of the Kachin Manau

A 100 word summary just doesn’t seem enough to describe how important this book is.  Though less than 50 pages long, the author, one of the most respected literary figures in the Kachin community, has demonstrated how oral legends and myths should not be relegated to a past that doesn’t concern us … 

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Writer Profile: Mra Hninzi

Mra Hninzi is a renowned Burmese to English to Burmese translator.  She was head of the foreign relations division at the department of immigration from 2000 – 2005, after she retired from government service she began her translation career.  Her translated books include ‘A brief History of Globalisation’ by Phillippe Legrain (which won the Sarpay Beikmann translation award in 2005), the ‘Bonesetter’s Daughter’ by Amy Tan, ‘Small Miracles’ series by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal and Thant Myint U’s ‘River of Lost Footsteps’.

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Sadaik Short Reviews: Selected Myanmar Short Stories

Sadaik Short Reviews: Selected Myanmar Short Stories

Despite being a decade old, still the best English language collection of short stories from Myanmar available.  Featuring over 20 celebrated writers including Journal Kyaw Ma Ma Lay, Nyi Pyu Lay, U Pe Myint, Khet Ma, Ma Sandar and Ma Ju among others.  Ma Thanegi’s translation, as usual, is pitch perfect with each story accompanied by a colour illustration.

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Northern Moon

Far away from the publishing power centres in Mandalay and Yangon and only a three hour drive from the frontline of a malignant civil conflict Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in the far north of Myanmar is not where you would necessarily expect to find a thriving literary group …

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Printing with the Government Press Building

Printing with the Government Press Building

Sitting in the shadow of the much larger and imposing Secretariat, it is easy to dismiss this two storey, red brick building as just another of the many abandoned and unloved heritage structures so common in Yangon.  And yet (as is true for so many of these buildings) for over a century the Government Press has a long and important history …

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Writer Profile: Mu Mu Winn

Mu Mu Winn is a writer and teacher.  She graduated with an MA in English from Yangon University and taught the subject there for 15 years.  Leaving Myanmar she worked in China, Laos and Bhutan for the United Nations, before gaining her MA in Education from Sussex University in the UK.  She spent the next 16 years living in Qatar as an English Lecturer at the State University.  She has now returned to Yangon where she dabbles in translation and interpretation.   She has published one novel in English, ‘A Gentle Kind of Poverty’.

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Turning the Pages at Kuthodaw Pagoda

Turning the Pages at Kuthodaw Pagoda

With so many pagodas in Myanmar, it is easy to dismiss them all as alike.  Yet, Kuthodaw pagoda is something special. Off a quiet road from the former palace walls, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, like all pagodas, is best visited at dusk, when the tiles are no too hot to walk on and when the bats start to come out the nearby banyan trees … 

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