Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nonfiction: Burmese Refugees by TF and TLS Rhoden

Publisher: Digital Lycanthrope
Date: August 2011
Format: paperback
Acquired: from LibraryThing Member Giveaways
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in return for an honest review.)
Pages: 128
Reading time: one month

From GoodReads: The misrule of the Burmese military junta continues to be the main catalyst of refugees in Southeast Asia today. In this collection of letters, learn about the true stories of people who have fled from that regime. All of the accounts are written by the refugees themselves and explain how they became asylum seekers, what life is like in the camps, and what they envision for their future. These stories document persons from the 8888 generation, the 2007 Saffron Revolution, and various ethnic struggles. This book contains the narratives of thirty one diverse individuals—all of them united by the simple desire to have a more representative government in their homeland. 

My review: Burmese Refugees provides important insights into the individual lives of people fleeing Burma for a variety of political, cultural, and religions reasons. What I found most eye-opening about the narratives were both the continual presence of militaristic governments in a world moving increasingly towards democracy and some of the relatively Westernized aspects of Burmese society. Many of the refugees had attended university in Burma, owned video stores, worked with computers. Their hope is inspiring, with most of the refugees looking forward to resettling in another country and restarting their educations and careers or hoping the political situation in Burma will become more representative so that they may return to their home country. Overall, though, I thought the refugees' narratives were too short. I realize that they were written as English exercises for a class, but I feel like my understanding of the situations people were facing would have been increased even more had additional details of their stories been told than just what could be contained within a few scant pages.

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