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A brilliant, tender evocation of contemporary Burma from the award-winning author of Stalin’s Nose and The Oatmeal Ark.
‘One of the most original and extraordinary travel books for years’ was how Alexander Frater described The Oatmeal Ark in the Observer, and now here is a new book from Rory MacLean. In this marvellous book this extraordinary writer expresses the pain of Burma with great tenderness, using novelistic techniques to weave together the patient endurance of its stricken inhabitants, together with their fragility and immense charm. Through his intense studies of the lives of the individual Burmese he encounters he makes us feel the weight of the regime under which they labour, from the girls who work on the building-sites under appallingly exploitative conditions to the drunken pirates who profit from the chaos.
Not only that, but Burma is surely a country of great interest here, being a part of the Eastern Empire about which the British are so nostalgic; and being such a lovely, fragile country under the iron hand of an oppressive military regime, the opposition led by the determined, tiny figure of Aung San Suu Kyi, it has a compelling quality about it that outweighs either Eastern Europe or Canada. Rory MacLean continues to be one of the most exciting and – in literary terms – adventurous of modern travel writers.
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Praise for Stalin’s Nose:
‘Crazy, charming, a delight’
- John Le Carré
‘A minor masterpiece of comic surrealism’
- The Times
Praise for The Oatmeal Ark:
‘So polished, so clever, so artful, so innovative; a remarkable, beguiling journey’
- Michael Thompson-Noel, Financial Times
‘Such a book as this rather marvellously explains why literature still lives’
- John Fowles, Spectator
Ten years ago, the people of Burma rose up against their military government. The unarmed demonstrators were cut down, leaving more than five thousand dead. In ' Under the dragon', Rory MacLean, author of the acclaimed 'Stalin’s Nose' and 'The Oatmeal Ark', travels from a decaying Rangoon to the heart of the golden triangle, meeting the victims and perpetrators of the uprising. He rides with a hill-tribe warlord, shares tea with a government censor and is trapped into a karaoke evening with Chinese businessmen. He learns about the economics of the heroin trade and the tragedy of child prostitution. He meets the most courageous and contentious woman of our age, Aung San Suu Kyi, imprisoned leader of the democratic opposition party. And he unravels a paradox of selfless generosity and sinister greed in a land stitched together by love and fear.
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