Saffron Shadows and Salvaged Scripts: Literary Life in Myanmar Under Censorship and in Transition

Hardcover | September 15, 2015

byEllen Wiles

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This book tells an ethnographic story of a secret literary culture that has recently emerged from its cocoon. Until 2012, Myanmar (also known as Burma) was ruled for fifty years by one of the most paranoid and repressive censorship regimes in history. The military junta enforced strict reading and writing restrictions in line with their ideology, feared writers' potential to trigger change, and did their best to keep Western books and influences out of the country.

As part of an unexpected move toward democracy, the government has recently lifted the worst restrictions on reading and writing, giving rise to a new era in the country's literature and literary culture. While living in Myanmar in 2013, Ellen Wiles sought out the best of its contemporary writers and writing to begin uncovering the country's remarkable literary life and history. This book contains the experiences and recent output of nine Myanmar writers spanning three generations, featuring interviews and English-language translations of their work, along with political, legal, and artistic explorations. It includes men and women, fiction and poetry, reflecting the ripples of political and cultural change as they have moved across different groups and genres. A rare portrait of a people and place in transition, Wiles's work contributes both to the study of literature and culture in Myanmar and to the general study of art under censorship.

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From the Publisher

This book tells an ethnographic story of a secret literary culture that has recently emerged from its cocoon. Until 2012, Myanmar (also known as Burma) was ruled for fifty years by one of the most paranoid and repressive censorship regimes in history. The military junta enforced strict reading and writing restrictions in line with the...

Ellen Wiles is a British writer, human rights lawyer, and scholar specializing in literary culture and cultural ethnography. She lives in London.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:September 15, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231173288

ISBN - 13:9780231173285

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsPrologueAcknowledgments1. Introduction: Literary Life Under the Censorship Regime2. Writers: The Older GenerationWin TinShwegu May HninPe Myint3. Writers: The Middle GenerationYe ShanMa ThidaZeyar Lynn4. Writers: The Younger GenerationNay Phone LattPandoraMyay Hmone Lwin5. Conclusion: Literary Life in TransitionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Ellen Wiles discusses the secret literary culture that developed under this regime and more recent developments by interviewing prominent writers and providing translations of their intriguing works for English speakers to discover, while also providing important context and a lasting sense of hope for the future of creativity in the country.