For May, we reached out to internationally renown Burmese writer PEN International board member and human rights activist Ma Thıda. She prepared the following reading list for young readers.
1. Shahriar Mandanipour / Censoring An Iranian Love Story
“Dark humor and graphical design of this book are lovely matched.”
In his first novel to appear in English, “one of Iran’s most important living fiction writers” (The Guardian) shows what it’s like to live and love there today.
2. Xu Zhiyuan / Paper Tiger; Inside The Real China
“Writing style makes readers very engaging into this essays collection.”
“In PAPER TIGER the Chinese journalist and intellectual Xu Zhiyuan paints a portrait of the world’s second-largest economy via a thoughtful and wide-ranging series of mini essays on contemporary Chinese society.
Xu Zhiyuan describes the many stages upon which China’s great transformation is taking place, from Beijing’s Silicon district to a cruise down the Three Gorges; he profiles China’s dissidents, including Liu Xiaobo, Ai Weiwei and Chen Guangcheng; and explores lesser-known stories of scandals that rocked China but which most people outside that country did not hear about – and which shed troubling light on China’s dark heart.
Xu Zhiyuan understands his homeland in a way no foreign correspondent ever could. PAPER TIGER is a unique insider’s view of China that is measured and brave, ambitious in scope and deeply personal.“
3. Pascal Khoo Thwe / From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey
“Witty but insightful, full of myths and reality”
“In 1988, Dr. John Casey, a professor visiting Burma, meets a waiter in Mandalay with a passion for the works of James Joyce, and the encounter changes both their lives.
Pascal, a member of the Kayan Padaung tribe, was the first member of his community to study English at a university. Within months of his meeting with Dr. Casey, Pascal’s world lay in ruins. Burma’s military dictatorship forces him to sacrifice his studies, and the regime’s brutal armed forces murder his lover. Fleeing to the jungle, he becomes a guerrilla fighter in the life-or-death struggle against the government. In desperation, he writes a letter to the Englishman he met in Mandalay.
Miraculously reaching its destination, the letter leads to Pascal’s rescue and his enrollment in Cambridge University, where he is the first Burmese tribesman ever to attend.
From the Land of Green Ghosts unforgettably evokes the realities of life in modern-day Burma and one man’s long journey to freedom despite almost unimaginable odds.”
4. Aravind Adiga / The White Tiger
“Enjoy freedom under oppression”
“A stunning literary debut critics have likened to Richard Wright’s Native Son, The White Tiger follows a darkly comic Bangalore driver through the poverty and corruption of modern India’s caste society. “This is the authentic voice of the Third World, like you’ve never heard it before” (John Burdett, Bangkok 8).
The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.
Recalling The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, The White Tiger is narrative genius with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation—and a startling, provocative debut.”
5. Jonas Jonasson /The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden
“Full of fun and adventure, strength of reading and reasoning”
“Jonas Jonasson’s picaresque tale of how one person’s actions can have far-reaching—even global—consequences, written with the same light-hearted satirical voice as his bestselling debut novel, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
On June 14th, 2007, the King and Prime Minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the Royal Castle. Later it was said that both had fallen ill: the truth is different. The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto. Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world’s most secret projects.
Here is where the story merges with, then diverges from reality. South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994. This is a story about the seventh missile . . . the one that was never supposed to have existed. Nombeko Mayeki knows too much about it, and now she’s on the run from both the South African justice and the most terrifying secret service in the world. She ends up in Sweden, which has transformed into a nuclear nation, and the fate of the world now lies in Nombeko’s hands. ”