The George Orwell Prize

With the British Embassy in Rangoon organising the Irrawaddy Literature 2013 festival, perhaps it’s not a surprise that they have included a political theme to the event …

The George Orwell Prize is leaving the shores of England for the first time to present the winning authors with its annual prize for political writing at the festival. According to their website, they will also be co-ordinating workshops and dialogues on censorship and journalism.

But wait.  To cement their Burmese credentials they have also launched a “Buy a Book for Burma” appeal, where donors can send one of three selected Orwell works to the Irrawaddy Literature Festival.  Why?  Because they are “ taking Orwells writing to Burma where it is revered but unavailable“. 

To be fair, it’s a nice idea.  Not quite sure if any of the Orwell prize committee members have actually been to Burma though, seeing as how you can buy “Burmese Days” and “Animal Farm” at the National Museum shop, Shwe Dagon pagoda gift shop, Monument Book store and at pretty much any of the street book stalls on Mahabandoola Lan.

And as to the Orwell’s works being “revered”, I respect the man and his works, but he isn’t God and his books are not the holy texts of Burma.