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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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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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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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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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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Hidden Words Review from the Tea Circle

Hidden Words Review from the Tea Circle

Many thanks to Richard Roewer and the Tea Circle for a generously balanced and thoughtful review of the Hidden Words anthology.

‘… the diversity of the authors is one of the book’s greatest features. There is something extremely refreshing about a publication that did not select authors based on their reputation (some are first time writers) or based on how economical the translation of their stories would be, but rather on the basis of each story’s ability to open a door to new perspectives.’

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Review: Hidden Words Anthology

Review: Hidden Words Anthology

Many thanks to T F Rhoden and the Asia Review of Books for a very kind review of the Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds anthology.

Fascinating and smart, the eclectic collection of short stories found in Hidden Words Hidden Worlds: Contemporary Short Stories from Myanmar is recommended as much for its ability to serve as a primer on the ethnic diversity of Myanmar as it is for the enjoyableness of the stories.

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Tun Foundation Literary Awards

Tun Foundation Literary Awards

The annual Tun Foundation awards are one of Myanmar’s more important, independent literary prizes.  Created out of a private fund from the founders of the Tun banking family, it recognises books and manuscripts written in Burmese and English in 12 categories including History, Biography, Culture and Environment plus a lifetime achievement award … 

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Myanmar Literature: Burmese or Ethnic?

Myanmar Literature: Burmese or Ethnic?

For the final post of 2017, I thought I would look more generally at the position of ethnic literature and its place in a wider definition of Myanmar Literature.

Though there has been little mention of it the English language press, (for a good blog piece, read Kate Griffin, who attended on behalf of the Writers Centre Norwich) the Yangon Literary Conference 2017 was held between the 13th and 16th December at MCC Hall with bookstalls, poetry recitals and exhibitions displayed by the City Hall from the 8th to the 12th

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Myanmar Literature and Art Copyright Law

Myanmar Literature and Art Copyright Law

One of the unfortunate consequences of decades of military rule in Myanmar is the staggering number of ancient law codes still on the books.  Many of these laws date back to the colonial era and some even to the 19th Century.  A massive task of the transition is the repeal and amendment of these laws that have no place in 21st Century society … 

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Asia Literary Review featuring Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds

Asia Literary Review featuring Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds

The Asia Literary Review is the leading literary journal for Asian connected literature and writers.  This month they have produced a stellar edition with a focus on Myanmar including a chapter from Francis Wade’s new book, Myanmar’s Enemy Within and a very generous feature of four of the stories from Hidden Words Hidden Worlds: Contemporary Short Stories from Myanmar

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Is ‘Smile as They Bow’ The Most Popular Book in Myanmar?

Is ‘Smile as They Bow’ The Most Popular Book in Myanmar?

According to Reddit user Backforward24 it is.  Yesterday, Coconuts ran an article on a literary map of the world uploaded onto Reddit which purportedly shows the favourite book in each country.  Backforward24’s choice for Myanmar was Nu Nu Yi (Inwas)’s inspirational ‘Smile as they Bow’ translated into English by Alfred Birnbaum and his wife Thi Thi Aye in 2008 …

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Myanmar Literature in Translation

Myanmar Literature in Translation

*this post was updated in October 2017

Before arriving in Myanmar in 2011, it was an effort to find Burmese works written or translated into English.  Fifty years of a national literature struggling just to survive and a global literary community unable to access the literature produced from this era has left Myanmar, relative to its size and literary lineage, with one of the least recognised and understood canons in the world …

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