burma chronicles

February 19, 2009


Guy Delisle’s latest book was my favourite Christmas present this year. Everyone seemed to think the same, as at one point six of us were reading the book simultaneously. This involved lots of snatched reading while the previous reader was in the shower/had gone shopping/to get a drink. But no fighting (and in fact, quite a lot of considerate leaving outside of bedroom doors after turning in), and I think we all finished it in the end. Surely you couldn’t ask for better testimony.

Delisle seems to have created a bit of an odd niche for himself, depicting life as he experiences it in the more bizzare and/or oppressive corners of the world, like in Pyongyang and Shenzhen. His Burma stay was a little different in that he accompanied his wife there while she worked for MSF, and spent his time mainly drawing and looking after their baby son. His simple line drawings succeed as they have before in describing his adventures in an understated manner (though there seemed to be fairly heavy focus on toilet troubles this time around).

The aid aspect of his wife’s work there may have politicized this book more than his previous ones, but to good effect. That side of his experiences was a bit less developed in his last two books, possibly as the result of his more transitory stay. Even so, I think Delisle struggles here to overcome to ‘otherness’ of the Burmese, perhaps due to the language barrier.

Although the blogging wind fell away from my sails for a while there, this post had to be even more delayed as it was a surprise birthday present to Ms. D… which then took ages to arrive. And when it did, the Bean Counter promptly took control of it during our recent reunion weekend. A charming little read about a country and people that deserve better than the government they have today.


3 Responses to “burma chronicles”

  1. Ms D Says:

    So pleased to have it as a pressie! Although I’m clearly not the first one to have read my copy seeing that a certain someone read about 3/4s on her weekend visit. Sad because packed it away to be moved!

  2. Burma Chronicles I find is much lighter in tone than his previous two trips to China and Korea. The information and rich history he provides concerning the political struggle though is fascinating. Cheers.

    • sunburn Says:

      Definitely a couple more slapstick moments, but in fact, I thought his Burma book was a lot more critical and deeper than his Shenzhen and Pyongyang ones. I enjoyed Pyongyang and the Burma Chronicles most, Shenzhen less.

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