Historical Accounts of War and Passion in Myanmar

Burma Bookshelf Main Bamboo People IconBlood Bond IconThe Monsoon Bride IconThe Trouser People IconBlood Bond - Ma Ma LayBlood Bond
by Ma Ma Lay
Published by the UH Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Blood Bond is a story about a Japanese woman’s tireless search for her Burmese half-brother born during World War II when her father, a Japanese officer in the Burma campaign, fell in love with and married a Burmese woman. But the story is also an indictment of war and what it does to individuals and societies, which perhaps can be overcome only by “blood” ties. Post-war Burmese society in both urban and rural settings provide the context for the story while important values found in Burmese society are expressed in the events that transpire and the dialogue of its characters. Ma Ma Lay is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Burmese writers of 20th century. Her stories are known for authentic portrayals of modern Burmese society.

To purchase, the UH Center for Southeast Asian Studies sells the book for $18. Contact us at cseas@hawaii.edu.

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The Monsoon BrideThe Monsoon Bride
by Michelle Aung Thin
Published by The Text Publishing Company, 2011

Rangoon 1930. Winsome, raised in a convent and newly married to a man she barely knows, is full of anticipation as she travels towards the great metropolis. She does not know that Rangoon, this city cradled in the arms of rivers, is about to be torn apart in the struggle between its ancient owners and new masters. That it will seduce her, possess her senses and change utterly her notion of what kind of woman she can be.

‘A beautiful, dark and psychologically complex love story set in Burma where the characters unfold layer by layer as a result of not only their individual pasts but the past of a colonised country.’

Alice Pung

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Bamboo PeopleBamboo People
by Mitali Perkins
Published by Charlesbridge Publishing, 2010

Narrated by two teenage boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of Burma’s many ethnic minorities, this coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family’s home and bamboo fields. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion when the boys’ stories intersect. Set against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma, Bamboo People explores the power of courage and compassion to overcome violence and prejudice.

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The Trouser PeopleThe Trouser People: A Story of Burma in the Shadow of the Empire
by Andrew Marshall
Published by Counterpoint, 2002

Two journeys, one hundred years apart–that of the eccentric British explorer George Scott, who introduced the game of soccer to Burmese natives, and that of the author, charting the same dangerous terrain in a country vastly changed by colonialism, war, and politics. Andrew Marshall has written an unforgettable adventure story, the wry account of two journeys into the untraveled heart of Burma. Part travelogue, part history, part reportage, The Trouser People recounts the story of George Scott, the eccentric British explorer, photographer, adventurer, and later Colonial Administrator of Burma, who introduced the Empire’s best game (soccer) to Burmese natives and to the forbidden Wa state of headhunters, who were similarly enthusiastic about it. The second, contrasting journey is Marshall’s own, taking the same dangerous path one hundred years later in a country now devastated by colonial incompetence, war, and totalitarianism.

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The Piano TunerThe Piano Tuner
by Daniel Mason
Published by Random House LLC, 2003

In 1886 a shy, middle-aged piano tuner named Edgar Drake receives an unusual commission from the British War Office: to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and there repair a rare piano belonging to an eccentric army surgeon who has proven mysteriously indispensable to the imperial design. From this irresistible beginning, “The Piano Tuner” launches its protagonist into a world of seductive loveliness and nightmarish intrigue. And as he follows Drake’s journey, Mason dazzles readers with his erudition, moves them with his vibrantly rendered characters, and enmeshes them in the unbreakable spell of his storytelling.

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