Emotional and enthralling, Miss Burma shines a light directly onto and into the political situation that is sadly all too relevant for many ethnic minorities trying to survive and find some form of peace and justice in their lives.
Based on the lives of her grandparents and mother, Charmain Craig weaves a troubled story beginning in the times immediately prior to the Second World War, when two lonely young people meet and become married, before either of the fully understand the ramifications of what this means for the years to come. Benny, a young disengaged man of the Jewish faith, born in Rangoon, growing up in Calcutta; in Benny’s world not a lot of good happened.
Khin, born into the Karen culture, young, beautiful, timid and working as a nanny to a Karen Judge saw Benny working in his job as a Customs’ officer at the local jetty. They meet, he admired her and she noticed two things, ‘his sticky out ears and an expression of meekness in his eyes’. He followed her home and asked to meet her, seeking permission to marry her.
Through the many issues of youth, expectations and cultural differences the marriage produced their daughter Louise, a beautiful, intelligent child who went on the become Burma’s first beauty Queen, something which bought her great fame, but also many challenges over the years.
Louise’s fame and youth is set among the years of the Japanese occupation, the rise and death of Aung San, a communist and social democrat politician, who was responsible for bringing about the end of British rule in Burma. His assassination set off the Civil War.
Benny and Khin become entangled in the web of political lies and manipulations, all the while still trying to find understanding, love and acceptance amidst the chaos, a pathway which will have long term effects on Louise as she finds eventually that she too, will have to make choices.
The work is detailed, dramatic and very, very real, laying out the angst of Charmain Craig’s grandparents as they struggle to find a safe passage thought the political minefield of not just Burma in changing times, but also being both Jewish and Karen, in a time when communism was the political driver of the country.
Brilliant and intimate, Miss Burma portrays the real world of past, present and future and the choices that have to be made, with the consequences of these actions often times unexpected.
Miss Burma was long-listed Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 UK.
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|