Exploring Burma’s Bookshops: New Vision

One of my favourite bookshops in Myanmar, New Vision is the quintessential, tumble down second hand book store. The entrance is narrow and already framed with books. As you enter, the light dims and you are confronted by a wall of books.

To your right there is a small wooden counter with books dangling precariously above it like one of those coin push machines in the amusement arcades. To your left is the English section. As everywhere in this shop, the books are double if not triple stacked, and often piled with the spine facing inwards so you dont really know what you are looking at. Feel free to tear down the piles yourself or ask the staff to dislodge a few of the towers for you. Dig deep and dig hard for it is worth it. Some of the rarest books I have, I found in New Vision. Books that I havent seen anywhere else (for example, a 1970s, first edition of Ludu U Hlas novel The Victim, translated into English by Kathleen Forbes and the historian Than Tun and printed in Yangon). The rest of the shop is dedicated to Burmese language books, but there is a second floor.

If you can squeeze up the narrow staircase in the back, (made even narrower by the piles of books on the steps themselves) upstairs is a low slung room, again packed from floor to ceiling with more books.  Ask one of the staff to show you their collection of socialist-era literary magazines, including many which were banned such as Shumawa, Oway and Moe Way journals.  Though many of these journals have suffered from the monsoons, the humidity and rats, there are some stunning examples of cover artwork from this time.  If you are looking for something in particular, ask one of the staff, despite the chaos they seem to know every book in the shop and where it is.

Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm

Address: 146 A, 37th Street, Middle Block between Anawhrahta and Mahabandoola Street, Kyauktada Township.