Finding George Orwell In Burma
by Emma Larkin
Emma Larkin travels through Burma, talking to lots of people and viewing the country through the prism of Burmese Days, Animal Farm, and 1984. It’s a lively and well-constructed book, and if there’s not much new to say about life under The Generals, that’s unsurprising: lots of writers, including Orwell, crafted an idiom of twentieth century totalitarianism that is very much with us today, so much so that it’s hard to see a very different way to write about it. I do wish we had fresher insight into either Orwell or his novels: I haven’t read them in years, but nothing here surprised me enough to find them again on my shelves. I wish I knew more about those who do quietly support the military regime, but their story must be even harder to uncover than that of the courageous dissident movement.