Quantcast
Latest Stories

International literary festival opens in Myanmar



YANGON, Myanmar—Myanmar’s first international literary festival opens Friday in Yangon, bringing together dozens of authors from around the world, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Irrawaddy Literary Festival, which runs through Sunday, comes as Myanmar relaxes its censorship rules, bringing new freedom of expression to authors, journalists, bloggers and comedians, many of whom have served time as political prisoners.

Myanmar shut its censorship office in August and a week ago officially rebranded the Press Scrutiny board, which was responsible for censoring publications, as the Copyrights and Registration Division.

Authors must still submit their books to the government for approval before distribution, and some of the old laws used to jail dissident writers remain on the books. But local authors say that for the most part, censors have put down their red pens and they can publish quite freely.

The festival is the latest in a series of “firsts” for this long-closed nation, where sweeping political reform has resulted in a rush of business and cultural engagement with the outside world. In recent weeks, Myanmar has seen its first marathon, its first big foreign rock concert — by Jason Mraz — and its first New Year’s Eve countdown, an event inconceivable under old laws that banned public gatherings.

“Wild Swans” author Jung Chang, India’s Vikram Seth, British historian Timothy Garton-Ash and New Delhi-based writer William Dalrymple — a force behind India’s hugely successful Jaipur literary festival — are scheduled to attend this weekend’s festival, along with more than 80 authors from Myanmar.

Myanmar’s literature is little known abroad, thanks to half a century of isolationist rule and a lack of translation.

Only a handful of books have been translated from Burmese into English. It is difficult if not impossible for foreigners to read the work of leading local authors like Ju, Ma Thida and poet Saw Wai, who have helped shape Myanmar’s tradition of literary dissent.

The few authors known overseas — like Thant Myint-U, now a government adviser, and Pascal Khoo Thwe, the first Padaung tribesman to graduate from Cambridge University — have lived for long periods abroad and wrote in English. They are not seen here as truly local authors.

The old government restrictions on publication have also cut off local readers from global authors. The international literature available here has, by and large, been limited to redacted versions of Russian and Western classics, by writers like Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell and John Steinbeck.

The festival director is Jane Heyn, wife of the British ambassador to Myanmar. Sponsors include Yoma Strategic Holdings and Myint & Associates, companies that have been cultivating international business partners as the US, Europe and Australia unwind economic sanctions against Myanmar.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Aung San Suu Kyi , Burma , festival , Freedom , Literature , Myanmar



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Nothing should impede normalization of Russia-West relations – Putin
  • Prosecutor says mate in SKorean ferry steering waters for 1st time
  • Malaysia asks world to pray for missing plane clue
  • 13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche
  • Pope sends condolences for S.Korea ferry victims
  • Sports

  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • PH boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
  • Canadians back PH plea to take back waste
  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
  • OFW from UAE tests negative for MERS-Cov–health chief
    Marketplace