Why do we read? And why do writers like Karen Connelly devote their lives to creating books? Among the reasons I spend precious hours reading, one of the primary is to know myself better. Such discovery is accomplished most often by temporarily becoming part of the lives fictional or factual of others. In Burmese Lessons: A True Love Story
, Connelly references her own reasons for writing about Burma, Burmese friends and her Burmese lover; but I can not know all of those reasons or their rank. What I can know is that her love story, both for a country and for a man, was a solid fit in my hierarchy of motivations for reading: Connelly's talent for word craft, combined with her passion, brought me, a reader with little knowledge of Burmese culture or history, to the doorstep of the country.
Connelly already had a strong bond with Asia when...
Beyond the Book
During the time covered in Burmese Lessons
, the military government in Burma was known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). This name has since been changed to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), but the behavior of the government has not changed. Since 1962, the ruling military regime has severely restricted the freedom of its citizens. Freedom of speech, the guarantee of a fair trial, and the protection of children from hard labor are just a few of the rights absent in Burma. Media is restricted to only state-approved outlets, such as this English language newspaper.