Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop

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9780719556951: Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop
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Burma, where George Orwell worked as an officer in the Imperial police force, is currently ruled by one of the oldest and most brutal military dictatorships in the world. Emma Larkin presents a side to the country that the regime does not want revealed: a hidden world that can be found only in whispered conversations, covered books and the potent rumours wafting like vapours through the country's teashops. Starting in the former royal city of Mandalay, she travelled through the moody delta regions on the edge of the Bay of Bengal, to the mildewed splendour of the old port town Moulmein, and ending her journey in the mountains of the far north, in the forgotten town Orwell used as the setting for Burmese Days. Visiting the places where Orwell lived and meeting the people who live there today, Emma Larkin gives a vivid and moving portrait of a people for whom reading is resistance.

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About the Author:

Emma Larkin was born and brought up in Asia. She studied the Burmese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London while taking her masters in Asian History. She has been visiting Burma for almost ten years.

Review:

'Vivid and surprisingly lyrical evocation ... Beautifully written, this is a gem, rich in insight.' -- Good Book Guide 20040901 'An absorbing mix of politics and history. It is a fine book, a vivid picture of an isolated country ... the only first-hand account of modern Burma' -- Sue Baker, Publishing News 'Book of the Month' 20040409 'This book is an indictment of the military dictatorship that has oppressed Burma for the past 50 years or so, and oppresses it still. Larkin loves the people of that unfortunate country ... [this is a] sympathetically zealous account of investigative travel ... Larkin traces the Orwellian parallels with admirable assiduity and nicely controlled indignation' -- Sunday Telegraph 20040815 '[The book] vividly portrays today's Burma ... The immediacy of her description fuses together Orwell's colonial Burma and the modern country ... The descriptions of the people she encounters are amusing as well as touchingly sad ... The author's intimate knowledge of the Burmese language and culture makes her portrayals more vivid and alluring.' -- Times Higher Education Supplement 20040917 'George Orwell went to Burma aged 19 to work as a colonial policeman. He didn't enjoy his time there ... but that doesn't deter Emma Larkin from visiting the places where he lived and worked ... What shines out is the resilient, subversive humour of the people whom she meets' -- Financial Times 20040814 'Engaging work ... Larkin's reportage on modern Burma is every bit as fascinating as Orwell's Burmese essays of the 1930s. Her ability to listen to the Burmese without putting words in their mouths and her unexaggerated prose paint an enlightening portrait of the country. ... superb account of life in Burma's exotic tragi-comedy' -- Observer 20040808 'Emma Larkin knows her history, and speaks Burmese ... [she] squares the circle by subscribing to the dissident Burmese intellectual jest that Orwell's first novel, Burmese Days (1934), is part of a "Burmese trilogy" ... for Emma Larkin, the conceit provides an alternative way of authenticating what, from the outset of Secret Histories, is an earthly hell.' -- Independent 20040909 'Reveals much about present-day Burmese life, drawn from furtive conversations with friends in the quiet corners of tea shops.' -- Geographical Magazine 20041101 'The geography is exact, following the route marked by Orwell's postings in Mandalay, the southern Delta, the capital Rangoon, Moulmein and finally Katha...never less than fascinating: a sudden sulphurous whiff from a world in which a writer finds himself turned into a glowing personal presence in the lives of thousands of ordinary people. Larkin is sensitive, too, to the wider effect that Burma had on the young Blair's consciousness...Larkin takes a welcome look at the fragmentary notes for a novel entitled "A Smoking Room Story", found among Orwell's papers after his death in 1950...Unpretentiously written (in the complimentary sense of the phrase)..."Secret Histories" contains several striking vignettes.' -- Sunday Times 20040822 'Engaging ... every bit as fascinating as Orwell's Burmese essays of the 1930s. [Larkin's] ability to listen to the Burmese without putting words in their mouths and her unexaggerated prose paint an enlightening portrait of the country. ... [a] superb account of life in Burma's exotic tragi-comedy' -- The Observer 20040808 'Never less than fascinating: a sudden sulphurous whiff from a world in which a writer finds himself (sic?)turned into a glowing personal presence in the lives of thousands of ordinary people ... Unpretentiously written (in the complimentary sense of the phrase) ... Secret Histories contains several striking vignettes.' -- The Sunday Times 20040822 'A many-faceted book, beautifully written by almost the only Western writer who speaks proper Burmese, knows Burma and its inhabitants well, and has been able to record their feelings under the shadow of the tyranny.' -- Times Literary Supplement 20040917 'A deeply moving, and superbly readable, Orwellian account of modern Burma.' -- History Today 20050501 'Shortlisted for an award to honour freedom of expression in literature.' -- The Irish Times 20050212 'By gracefully stepping back and forth between the writings of a great novelist and the history of a troubled country, and recording it in smooth, flowing prose, Larkin shows herself to be a master both in a great literary tradition and of reporting on a brutal tyranny.' -- Foreign Affairs magazine 20050601 'From an American journalist writing under a pseudonym, a courageous, important examination of the bleak totalitarian state of Myanmar. A crucial expose of a scandalous regime.' -- Kirkus Reviews 20050401 'The author discovers a world worryingly similar to that of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four' -- Financial Times 20050709 'Larkin's prose is striking and understated, and she allows the people she meets to speak their parts without editorializing. In this way, she comes across not as an idealist but rather as an inquisitive and trustworthy guide to the underlying reality of a country whose leaders would rather have outsiders focus only on their carefully constructed veneer. Her efforts have resulted in a lucid and insightful illustration of truly Orwellian circumstances.' -- Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review) 20050401 'Engaging ... [a] superb account of life in Burma's exotic tragi-comedy' -- Observer 20040808 'What shines out is the resilient, subversive humour of the people whom she meets' -- Financial Times 20040814 '[A] sympathetically zealous account of investigative travel ... Larkin traces the Orwellian parallels with admirable assiduity and nicely controlled indignation' -- Sunday Telegraph 20040815 'Emma Larkin knows her history' -- Independent 20040909 'The only Western writer who speaks proper Burmese, knows Burma... well, and has been able to record their feelings.' -- Times Literary Supplement 20040917 'An elegant travelogue through Burma, using Orwell's sojourn and experiences there as a template' -- Spectator 20041127 'Never less than fascinating.' -- Sunday Times 20040822 'An evocative account of a tropical paradise ruled by a despotic regime.' -- The Times 20040822 'Emma Larkin's book hums with such evocative sentences; they concentrate our minds about Burma.' -- Literary Review 20040822 'The result is not only an exploration of one of the twentieth century's most important writers, but an expose of one of its greatest political tragedies.' Denise Heywood -- Traveller 20050301 'Presents a side to the country that the military government does not want revealed'. -- Accent 20050301 'Larkin!finds people who reveal what it was like to live under a vicious dictatorship. She repays their confidences by writing about their plight objectively yet sympathetically'. -- The Sunday Times 20050417 'Larkin is a thougtful guide...She is consistently interesting on Orwell, and the links between his work and the murky horrors of life in Burma today, but she is best on the Burmese people themselves.' -- Telegraph 20050402

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9780719556937: Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop

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