I have just returned from two weeks in Burma, where I saw the biggest book in the world (see photo at left). Other sites of literary interest included the Nationa Museum where they had samples of the handwriting of many Burmese writers, including Ma Ma Lay. I only have one Burmese book on my site – Ma Ma Lay’s Mone Ywe Mahu (Not Out of Hate). I went to the Bagan Book House, the best bookshop in Burma for English language books. They had a small but impressive collection of books but they were all non-fiction – travel, history, ethnography, botany/biology, etc, including some rare out of print memoirs – but no fiction to add to my collection. There were a lot of street sellers selling books in Burmese though obviously I was not able to judge what they were selling.
While there, I read Amitav Ghosh‘s The Glass Palace, the latest addition to my website. It is set in Burma (and India and Malaya as well), and is a family saga, with the various members moving between those three countries. However, it starts with the British invasion of Burma in 1885 and ends with Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest by the generals. It roundly condemns colonialism but shows that the concept is not always too simple, not least with the Burmese objecting to the Indian presence in Burma and, of course, the Japanese invasion of South-East Asia. It is well worth reading whether you know those three countries or not.