Letters From Burma

Letters From Burma - A clever way of highlighting a  passion for one's country from politics to babies, flowers & butterflies through a period of one year, taking in each season, celebration & festivity.


An interesting account of life in Burma from a remarkable woman, who has such passion for her country.


Aung San Suu Kyi is a political figure and letters from Burma tells of her plight, as she stands up against the government.

This is not a really dry political book though, and is a great introduction to Burma - a country just starting to open itself up to foreign visitors.


Plot



Told over a period of a year (1995) and through a series of letters, Letters From Burma is a descriptive account of a brave lady willing to stand against the powerful Burmese government.

What a woman! We learn so much about her country, about harrassment, discomfort, worry, concern & danger etc.

I personally didn't know much about Burma and its politics so this book was a real education, without being dry or boring.


Sue tells of festivals, monsoons and ordinary life in Burma, interspersed with interesting information about the Burmese government and politics.

There's nothing dry about this book as Sue cleverly intersperses the everyday life, customs, religion etc. of Burma into her text to illustrate why, politically, she is prepared to fight for her country. And she is prepared to do this at the expense of  being away from her own family.


Themes

Profound V's Every Day Life

She mixes the profound with the domestics of everyday life.  We hear her extolling the virtues of several eminent politicians of the N.L.D. & the shortcomings of the Government; she tells us about the weekly meetings at her gate & meetings to highlight the policies of her Party & she copes with the media on a daily basis.

YET, in spite of her eminence, she has to deal with getting her roof repaired from yet another monsoon & she describes how she has to move her papers & documents from one room to another during repairs. She's so important & yet so ordinary.

Humour & Description:


There's very little humour as such though there are many light moments during cups of tea & festivals etc. In the first chapter, on the journey along rough roads, they bounce around, giggling,

"like peas in a basin," & much later, she takes part in a water fight with much humour.
She writes descriptively; " the air hung warm & still," & she passes,"small bungalows smothered in tangles of greenery -----." And later, metaphorically, she likens the Hsayadaw to,"a strong & upright tree spreading out branches thickly covered,"  leaving us in no doubt about the power & influence of this deeply religious Buddhist.

Point of View On Many Topics


Health: She tells us about the happiness babies bring, "wearing hopeful dreams about the future," but she then goes on to describe the number of deaths of mothers & babies all because of malnutrition, unsafe water, poor sanitation & poor health services.

Media: She makes sure that she uses the media to highlight the policies of her Party because the Government wouldn't allow them to be published.

Police: She describes meetings, festivals & political rallies in detail but throughout, we are aware of the presence of guards & police who try, & frequently succeed in cancelling these events.  And always, there is the worry of arrest & imprisonment.

Sensitivity: No matter what she is telling us about, we are always aware of her sensitivity & concern for others. When it's very, very cold, she worries about those political prisoners who will be so much colder, "---lying in bleak cells & no mosquito nets." She pays tribute to the 4 retired army officers, key personnel of the N.L.D. but she also pays tribute to those supporters who meet at the gate of her house for the weekly Party meetings.

The descriptions of the Burmese seasons serve to show her sensitivity, awareness & deep love of her country whilst her description of previous Burmese hospitality is both uplifting  & touching.


Questions?



What Have You Learned About Burma?

Why is Sue such a remarkable lady?

What chracteristics make her so influential?

Should she have told us more about living under house arrest?

Why is there so little mention of her family in Letters From Burma?

Burma is starting to open up to foreign travellers - Would you visit Burma? Why or Why Not?

Do you have a favourite event or festival that she describes?


Like Letters From Burma?



Our Book Club scored Letters from Burma 7/10.

This is an informative and interesting read that will leave you feeling educated about Burma and feeling slightly inadequate as a human being!

For a political book, the style is quite chatty & relatively simple. She uses lots of imagery to illustrate Burma's beauty but in spite of her deep love, she also writes realistically; she is well aware of her country's short comings.

For more information about this amazing woman, you can find a good bio of her here: Aung San Suu Kyi

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