Emma Larkin a pseudonym for an American journalist living in Bangkok who hypothesizes that George Orwell s Animal Farm and 1984 were set in Burma and not the Soviet Union After all Burmese Days his first book, and his last novella untitled which he wrote upon his death bed, were both set in Burma He lived there for 5 years as an Imperial policeman and of course, also wrote the beautiful short story Shooting an Eleplant I m a big Orwell fan I was so excited to read this book and she does make a very strong case Why would we need to read 1984 on the book being banned in Burma , we LIVE 1984 says one old man she interviewed Yes, she makes a very compelling case, because she takes us through her Burma, painted as an Orwellian State, and she gives us so many vivid and specific details to prove her point, but as I m prepping for my trip to Burma, now, I am not so sure myself I don t want to believe her People know so little about Burma and what we do know, we know from CNN Aung San Suu Kyi s ongoing house arrest, the human rights abuses, the military regime seemingly randomly moving their capital into the middle of the jungle enough to make us think What really does go on in that country But I m optimist and I m convinced there are many other sides to Burma, stories that need to be told, the beautiful Burma, it s grand history, its Colonial past, its fleeting moment with democracy, the forgotten Monarchy, the temples of Pagan, surely there s so very much to be told about this country than just about being an Orwellian State. I m gonna write a history book about Burma s dictatorship but no one will buy that book, so let s put Orwell s name in the title I m not a historian so I don t know if this book was honest about Burma s regime or not but it has nothing to do with Orwell, she just drops Orwell s name for no reason in every chapter and compares Burma s dictatorship to his 1984 oh what a surprise, a dictatorship resembles Orwell s 1984 every fucking dictatorship resembles that book idiot p.s I don t trust the book, it felt like she was trying to say colonized Burma was better than this dictatorship hence British empire was not as bad as you think By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin eastward to the sea,There s a Burma girl a settin , and I know she thinks o me For the wind is in the palm trees, and the temple bells they say Come you back, you British soldier come you back to Mandalay Mandalay , by Rudyard KiplingGeorge Orwell Real name Eric Blair is most famous for his dystopian and anti totalitarianism novels Animal Farm and 1984, but he also wrote an earlier novel about colonialism Burmese Days.Orwell s parents were born in Burma now Myanmar and he spent five years as a member of the British Colonial Police in the country Those years he stayed in Burma were a major influence in his life, especially in his writing This fascinating book retraces Orwell s journey through Burma and connects it with the present situation in the country Emma Larkin is a pseudonym of a writer who wanted to retrace Orwell s career in Burma as a Colonial policeman She started in the city of Mandalay, to the southern Delta town of Myaungmya, to the capital Rangoon now Yangon then to Moulmein now Mawlamnyine , the town of Orwell s parents and the actual inspiration for Kipling s poem Mandalay and to Katha, the last town Orwell was assigned In her travels, Larkin encountered ordinary Burmese who know Orwell and have read his books It was delightedly good to learn that many Burmese are literate and that even some working class people have a love of reading and tea Perhaps it is a form of resistance to the military dictatorship that used to rule absolutely in their country.It can also be said that novel Burmese Days is part of a trilogy that can include Animal Farm and 1984 Larkin thinks this is the case, as she often found Burmese intellectuals who relate the three books to their country s plight Many Burmese call Orwell The Prophet , because he was said to have accurately foretold the country s suffering under the military dictatorship Larkin definitely found the country Orwellian, as she was constantly followed by informants and the people she talked to often spoke cautiously.Part literature, part history, and part travelogue, Finding George Orwell in Burma is a fascinating look at what was a closed country Now that the junta had relaxed its grip on the country and has allowed dissidents like Aung San Suu Kyi their freedom Myanmar now has a relatively open constitution and a civilian President , it is hoped that this country can rise up However, recent news about discrimination against non Buddhists can again tarnish this country s recent history. Re tracing Orwell s own steps and making many of her own through modern day Myanmar Burma, Emma Larkin writes a convincing case that both 1984 and Animal Farm, George Orwell s most well known works, are inspired by the paranoia and fear mongering of the Burmese police state Orwell spent approximately five years in Burma as a British imperial policeman in the 1920s, and traveled widely around the country Many of his experiences in the country led to his work Burmese Days, and his experiences there undoubtedly influenced his later work, as well as his philosophies on colonialism, politics, and the future of society The book is part biography of George Orwell, and part modern day travelogue and reporting in Myanmar Burma Larkin was watched closely as she traveled and researched for this book The name Emma Larkin is actually a pseudonym, to ensure the safety of her many sources, the people she met everyday in her travels.Read for Book Riot s 2016 Reader Harder Challenge a biography I have visited Myanmar formerly known as Burma I had some misgivings about visiting the military totalitarian state at first It is sort of a mini version of North Korea, but with less power But this book helped changed my mind since I am equally interested in George Orwell, one of my favorite writers, and I particularly enjoyed his colonial novel Burmese Days Thus, I was naturally inclined to read Emma Larkin s book Secret Histories Finding George Orwell In A Burmese Tea Shop It didn t disappoint Larkin is gifted at vividly describing the people and places she visits Her research into the life of Orwell, the history of Burma, and her political analysis of the current situation are interesting and informative So it is an unique book in the sense that it is all at once a travel log, history, political analysis, Literary biography and literary analysis I think she is particularly good in describing how living and working in Burma as a colonial policeman effected Orwell and influenced him to become a political writer championing the exploited and powerless The few snippets of autobiography that Orwell left behind indicate that his time in Burma was a major turning point in his life, marking his transformation from a snobbish public school boy to a writer with a social conscience who would seek out the underdogs of society and try to tell their stories Orwell s hatred toward colonialism, nurtured in the heat and solitude, grew like a hothouse flower.She uses Orwell s political novels like 1984 and Animal Farm to describe the currently situation in Myanmar where the government controls the people with strict censorship, informers, and military police Despite the pleas of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi s pleas for a boycott on tourism to protest the police state, I visited the country I had met a Japanese NGO worker who urged me to visit and I feel that I supported local people by eating in their restaurants and staying in their guesthouses I think I brought some outside influence to the people I met and saw the effects of the regime in person This author has made it clear that the people appreciate the outside perspective visitors bring. Oh, how I adored this book The author uses George Orwell s writings about Burma to frame her present day travels in the same country now called Myanmar If you have read any George Orwell, you will really appreciate this book in ways I can t even describe But even if you haven t, you will still come away with a new appreciation for how average people cope living under a strict dictatorship I still think about this book all of the timego read it now This was a book club pick and proved to be an interesting challenge because my prior knowledge of Burma was around zero, and I didn t remember much from school about George Orwell Emma Larkin is a pseudonym for a writer who has lived in Thailand and has crossed the border into Burma now Myanmar several times to write about the country and its human rights issues In this book, she traces the time George Orwell spent in Burma as a member of the British Imperial Police His experiences there influenced his later writings, and he is sometimes refered to as The Prophet because 1984 seems to predict what happened in the country after the British left.When I started the book, I was hopping on and off Wikipedia to refresh my memory of Orwell I had a disastrous introduction to him with Animal Farm in the eighth grade and never got over it Who has an eighth grader read Animal Farm as an independent reading choice and gives no background information I thought it was a book about talking animals and was horrified at the D on my book report To this day, I am bitter At some point I picked up 1984 and read it, but I remembered very little and had twisted it in with the plot of Fahrenheit 451 I was not prepared for this book Having a foggy memory of Orwell and almost no background on Burma or Myanmar, I struggled with this at first I tried to find connections to my own life or topics that interested me, and I wasn t sure if I was going to make it through Asian culture is something I do not identify with and the history of the country, the politics and the customs felt completely foreign I also had to take a detour into the expansion of the British Empire, which is not a quick trip.However, knowing I had a book group to support me when I finished, I slogged through the first chunk and found myself getting interested There s an edge to the story because of the political unrest and I kept expecting Larkin or her friends or interviewees to be imprisoned She is often followed as she explores Orwell s path but she knows how to work within the system and manages to stay safe I didn t google her until about halfway into the book, but I finally did because I couldn t figure out how she managed to travel alone in the country without being arrested or deported Emma Larkin sounds like a white woman with blonde hair and blue eyes to me what does that say about my stereotyped expectations but learning this was a pseudonym, it made sense She needs to remain anonymous so she can publish her stories She also needs to gain the trust of Burma s people and she carefully changes names and places and writes in code to protect them, and herself.The political structure in Burma is incredibly depressing, especially because at one point in history it was seen as a flourishing nation Older generations remember this time Some of them are beaten down by the changes, while others are angry and quietly fight against their government.As Larkin visits the places where Orwell was, she describes the parallels between what has happened in Burma and the stories Orwell wrote It is easy to see why he is called The Prophet Did he write 1984 knowing it would happen in Burma, or was it coincidence I think the book could be read against many countries practices now and would hold up as a prediction.Having this as a book group choice was fantastic because when we met we realized there were a lot of depressing and scary parallels between what had happened and is happening in Burma Myanmar and what is happening in America What started out as an alien book turned into a discussion of what our own government is doing We were mixed in our knowledge of Orwell and Burma, and it made for a great meeting as we pooled knowledge and made connections.The end of the book is both depressing and hopeful When Larkin finishes writing, Aung San Suu Kyi has disappeared and was feared dead The government had kept her under house arrest for years and tried to isolate her from the people and the United Nations because she promotes democracy and many of the people support her However, after the book was published, she was again released and continues her work for free elections The country is still a disaster in terms of human rights, health care, political corruption and much I wonder how much hope the people have, especially the younger generations that don t remember anything before the current government.Side note Our next book club choice is 1984 and I look forward to rereading it knowing about Orwell It will also be interesting to compare my reaction to reading it on my own in high school and my response to it today. Eric Blair prima di diventare George Orwell stato, tra le altre cose, poliziotto della Polizia Imperiale Birmana Il che, per un uomo che era figlio di un alto funzionario imperiale anglo indiano e del quale gran parte della famiglia aveva legami con le colonie in generale e con la Birmania in particolare, non era una cosa del tutto sorprendente.Blair, per , fin col dimettersi, perch profondamente turbato da quell esperienza, in un entit politica che si andava pian piano sgretolando Tornato in patria, divent George Orwell e sappiamo tutti come andata Sappiamo anche che la Birmania che nel frattempo non fa pi parte dell Impero Britannico e si chiama Myanmar rimarr sempre presente nella letteratura di Orwell Emma Larkin in questo saggio fa anche un passo in pi e se la realt del Myanmar attuale fosse molto pi vicina al mondo distopico di 1984 e de La fattoria degli animali rispetto a quanto si possa immaginare Larkin si muove negli stessi scenari in cui ha vissuto Orwell e di cui ha scritto, rendendoci una realt nella quale c un regime che sa tutto di tutto, osserva tutti, ascolta difficile capire chi sia una spia del regime e chi sia contro, chi sia un infiltrato e chi no una vita ipercontrollata senza possibilit di libert di pensiero, quella dei birmani, dove in effetti il ti di essere sempre controllati funge da repellente contro ogni possibile pensiero di ribellione contro il regime appassionante il tour della scrittrice, i personaggi veri, anche se potrebbero essere usciti da un romanzo che incontra mano a mano e che raccontano come sia vivere in Myanmar Alla fine, il paragone regge sembra che Orwell abbia previsto come sarebbe stata la vita in quella parte del mondo.Molto attento nelle ricostruzioni e incredibilmente vivo, il racconto si incarta un po nel finale, forse perch la routine di ricostruzione degli eventi, tra vita di Orwell ed esplorazione della realt birmana viene portata avanti sempre seguendo delle linee guida replicabili L unico vero punto che stona un po Aung Saan Suu Kyi Quando Larkin anche questo uno pseudonimo, tra l altro finisce la prima edizione del libro il 2005 e Aung Saan Suu Kyi non ancora libera Nel libro, come nelle testimonianze riportate della popolazione, ovviamente un po vista come la grande speranza del Paese A posteriori sappiamo come andata e le controversie circa la figura della stessa Aung Saan che stanno nascendo in questi anni se vogliamo, nel libro ci possono anche essere delle linee guida sulla lettura di tali posizioni In ogni caso, un dettaglio che rende abbastanza anacronistici alcuni passaggi Per il resto una bella lettura. Larkin travels Burma looking for traces of George Orwell She visits the city of his grandparents residence, the police academy he attended, his posting, and scenes of his novels and essays Everywhere she goes she finds Burma Orwellian.Larkin does a great job of describing how Burma has evolved to this and the prescience of Orwell Her quotes and references to Burmese Days, Animal Farm and 1984 are perfectly placed with her modern day experiences.Knowing the language, and apparently steeped in the culture, Larkin can do what few other outsiders can, look beyond the veneer and see what is actually there.A friend visited Burma over a year ago returning with beautiful photos and stories about how friendly and OPEN the people were This seemed contrary to my understanding of the situation but after a few chapters of Larkin, you re on to the whole thing Using anecdotes from her interviews and Orwell s words, she shows you step by step how a police state entrenches itself.When I read books like this, I worry about the interviewees With Burma s perfect infiltration, how they escape notice While names, including those of the author are pseudo, I hope descriptions of settings, professions and tea houses are well obfuscated.I highly recommend this to anyone interested in Burma, Orwell or the political science, sociology or psychology of totalitarian regimes.As you can see, the cover is absolutely stunning. Burma, Where George Orwell Worked As An Official In The Imperial Police Force, Is Currently Ruled By One Of The Oldest And Most Brutal Military Dictatorships In The World Around The Country Posters Promise To Crush All Internal And External Destructive Elements As The Common Enemy , And A Vast Network Of Military Intelligence Ensures No One Says Or Does Anything To Threaten The Regime In Short, George Orwell S Big Brother Is Alive And Well In Burma Over The Course Of A Year, Emma Larkin Visited The Places Where Orwell Lived, To Meet The People Who Live There Today 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 The Book Journeys Into The Orwellian Land Burma S Ruling Generals Have Created, A Place In Which Reality Is Distorted By Censorship And Truth Is A Dangerous Commodity Secret Histories Uncovers The Reality Of Life Inside This Secretive, Totalitarian State Emma Larkin Presents A Side To The Country That The Mili