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Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds

Contemporary Short Stories from Myanmar

 

In the first anthology of short stories from Myanmar published in the West, seven of the leading contemporary Burmese language writers and seven new voices from the ethnic regions, guide us on a sweeping journey, from the cities to the mountains, of this once pariah nation. 

Written in scripts until recently censored and outlawed the anthology presents a country that goes beyond the familiar lens of isolation and dictatorship unveiling a storied and diverse landscape of people and place. 

From the child imprisoned in Yangon in the south to the jaded miner of Kachin in the north, these stories, each set in a different region and era, reflect on Myanmar’s troubled past and pose questions for the future of a country undergoing a transformation of global importance.            

Featuring stories translated from Burmese, Mon, Karen (Sgaw Karen), Kayah (Kayah Li), Shan (Shan Gyi), Kachin (Jinghpaw), Chin (Lai Hakha) and Rakhine.

Although the limited print run of 750 copies of the anthology has already sold out, an e-book version of the anthology will be made available on all online platforms soon.

 

Singular not merely in its collaborative breadth, it is unprecedented: it is the first time in a half-century that such an ambitious and eclectic literary undertaking has been able to occur at all… 

…we can’t yet speak fully, even in the expressive terms of national literature(s), of a ‘Burmese thaw’. Hidden Word Hidden Worlds is however a brave and notable first step towards its real possibility.

Martin Kovan, Mascara Literary Review

 

… the diversity of the authors is one of the book’s greatest features. There is something extremely refreshing about a publication that did not select authors based on their reputation (some are first time writers) or based on how economical the translation of their stories would be, but rather on the basis of each story’s ability to open a door to new perspectives.

– Richard Roewer, Tea Circle

 

…The collection neither distorts nor downplays the very real points of political, ethnic, and cultural tensions between the dominate Burman and the minority peoples of the hinterlands. These stories highlight the personhood and agency of the everyday individual—which may have otherwise been lost to some larger narrative if told from a central Burman perspective. Fascinating and smart, the eclectic collection of short stories found in Hidden Words Hidden Worlds: Contemporary Short Stories from Myanmar is recommended as much for its ability to serve as a primer on the ethnic diversity of Myanmar as it is for the enjoyableness of the stories.

– T F Rhodan, Asian Review of Books

 

Further Reading & Listening:

 

The Court Martial – Letyar Tun, Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds (Asia Literary Review)

Myanmar Launch of Hidden Words Anthology – SADAIK

PODCAST – Storytelling in Myanmar with Letyar Tun and Fiona Ledger

In Conversation with Letyar Tun & Lucas Stewart – Writers Centre Norwich Podcast:

Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud from the WCN’s website here or on Player.fm here

An Interview with Lucas Stewart – Asia Literary Review

The People Elsewhere: Unbound Journeys with the Storytellers of Myanmar – Lucas Stewart

Hidden Worlds – The Irrawaddy, July, 2014

Shadow Signatures (A Legacy of Burmese Literary Pen Names) – Lucas Stewart, 2014

The Lady, the Writers and the Ex-Prisoners – FreeSpeechDebate, February, 2013

Parallel Lines – San Lin Tun (New Asian Writing, 2011)

Burma or Myanmar? Burmese or Burman? – U Khin Maung Saw

The Women of Burma – Daw Mya Sein (The Atlantic, 1958)

Modern Burmese Literature – U On Pe (The Atlantic, 1958)

 

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people-elsewhere_front-cover

The People Elsewhere

Unbound Journeys with the Storytellers of Myanmar

Lucas Stewart

Shortlisted for the 2018 Saroyan Prize

 

In a five year journey all across Myanmar, Lucas Stewart travels from Yangon in the south to the northern limits of Kachin State in search of the literary luminaries of the country’s recent past. He bonds with censored and jailed writers, poets, publishers and booksellers, recording their stories of heritage and resilience. In his conversations with students at an Aung San Suu Kyi rally or sharing stories with a Kayah farmer in his village house, the long-suppressed literatures and languages of minorities such as the Chin, Kachin, Shan and others shine through. The People Elsewhere is a vivid tableau of time and place, and an ode to the ethnic richness of Myanmar.

Penguin Books/Viking

 

…This book isn’t a memoir but a weaving of two stories. On the one hand it is a simple journey through the writers of a country that is undergoing a transformation many thought would never come; this is a story set in the ‘now’, where change can be seen and touched. The other story is much more complicated: it tells of a country in which the ‘now’ is not as important as the ‘before’, where history and the lessons learnt from it, cannot be easily set aside or forgotten…

Lucas Stewart, The People Elsewhere, Viking, 2016

 

Available from Penguin/Viking and in digital formats from Amazon.

 

Praise for ‘The People Elsewhere’:

 

‘Lucas Stewart’s book is an exquisite map of the many literatures of Myanmar, of the human impulse to express oneself through story and song… In scenes alternately warming and harrowing, it braids travel, history and literary criticism in a most ingenious way to give us an unforgettable portrait of a country long forgotten by the world.’

Chandrahas Choudhury, Author of Clouds and editor of India: A Traveller’s Literary Companion

 

‘The People Elsewhere is a vigorous and compelling travel parable … In a vivid and tenacious tour through some of the country’s militarily-sealed borderlands, Lucas Stewart explores with great generosity and kinship how previously banned or censored languages are still being preserved in some of remotest and educationally-marginalised areas in the world.’

James Byrne, Co-editor of Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets

 

‘Lucas Stewart’s journey across Myanmar offers a fascinating insight and a rare glimpse of life through its storytellers … Anyone wanting to discover Myanmar’s rich cultural heritage and how these endearing, diverse and remarkable peoples did more than just survive will find this an important and essential read.’

Nick Danziger, Photojournalist and Author of Danziger’s Travels.

 

More by Lucas Stewart:

 

Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds

Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2018 Winner – ‘Bakhur’

The Act of Insanity – Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Issue 25

Shadow Signatures: A Legacy of Burmese Pen Names – The Bamboo Sea

Hidden Worlds – The Irrawaddy, July, 2014

Myanmar’s Literary Talk Shows – The Diplomat, May 2014

The Kachin: Culture of the Mountain Lords – The Dissident Blog, March 2014

SADAIK Writer and Editor Lucas Stewart’s Personal Website

 

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