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Extended Audio Sample Finding George Orwell in Burma, by Emma Larkin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,159 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Emma Larkin Narrator: Emily Durante Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Over the years the American writer Emma Larkin has spent traveling in Burma, she has come to know all too well the many ways this police state can be described as “Orwellian.” The life of the mind exists in a state of siege in Burma, and it long has. The connection between George Orwell and Burma is not simply metaphorical, of course; Orwell’s mother was born in Burma, and he was shaped by his experiences there as a young man working for the British Imperial Police. Both his first novel, Burmese Days, and the novel he left unfinished upon his death were set in Burma. And then there is the place of Orwell’s work in Burma today: Larkin found it a commonplace observation in Burma that Orwell did not write one book about the country but three—the other two being Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. When Larkin quietly asked one Burmeseman if he knew the work of George Orwell, he stared blankly for a moment and then said, “Ah, you mean the prophet.”

Finding George Orwell in Burma is the story of the year Larkin spent traveling across this shuttered police state using the life and work of Orwell as her guide. Traveling from Mandalay and Rangoon to poor delta backwaters and up to the old hill-station towns in the mountains of Burma’s far north, Larkin visits the places Orwell worked and lived and the places his books live still. She brings to vivid life a country and a people cut off from the rest of the world, and from one another, by the ruling military junta and its network of spies and informers. Orwell’s spoor leads Larkin to strange, ghostly traces of the British colonial presence and to people who have found ways to bolster their minds against the state’s all-pervasive propaganda. Orwell’s moral clarity, hatred of injustice, and observant gaze serve as the author’s compass in a less tangible sense too: they are qualities that also suffuse this, her own powerful reckoning with one of the world’s least free countries.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Anna | 2/14/2014

    " Fantastic travel novel about Burma, its landscape, culture and politics. You can imagine what it would be like to travel there after reading the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jamie | 2/8/2014

    " kind of a downer as the end of most chapters alludes to the eclipse of democracy and what a mess/totalitarian state Burma/Myanmar is today...interesting and gives me new directions when I teach Orwell again and I love to teach Orwell--the man was a genius. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Alexis | 1/29/2014

    " Learned a lot about Burma from reading this book...and Orwell's books took on a new light knowing where he lived and what that world is like. It's almost like the man could see the future. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lam | 1/29/2014

    " I was drawn to this book because I fell in love with George Orwell after reading an essay titled "Shooting an Elephant." The essay describes an incident that took place during his time as a British police officer in Burma in the 1920s. "Shooting an Elephant" led me to other essays by Orwell. I found that I much prefer them to his fiction. They are passionately felt and finely crafted. In 2003, the author of this book traveled from place to place in Myanmar (Burma's new name), following the route of Orwell's various postings. It is her premise that three of Orwell's works of fiction--Burmese Days, 1984, and Animal Farm--aptly capture the 20th century history of Burma. Burmese Days is a portrait of the country under British colonial rule, and Animal Farm and 1984 reflect the horrors the country has experienced under the current military dictatorship since the 1950s. She supports her premise by interweaving her observations of life in Burma with explications of the three novels. This is the sort of nonfiction book I love. It took me to a place I will never see myself and gave me a picture of contemporary life there in telling details. The book is full of intimate glimpses of many wonderful characters. It is beautifully written and very moving. "

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About the Author

Emma Larkin is the pseudonym for an American journalist who was born and raised in Asia, studied the Burmese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and covers Asia widely in her journalism from her base in Bangkok. She has been visiting Burma for close to fifteen years.