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'Miss Burma' by Charmaine Craig

Hosted by the Consul of the Singapore Page Turners Group
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Took place 2 months ago
Sun 24 Feb 12:00 - 14:00

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Happy New Year to you all!
I picked a book on Myanmar (Burma) for which there were a lot of references in the previous books we read which took place during the 2nd WW Japanese occupation. I thought this book will be a good transition to delve into the history and diverse culture of Myanmar, not to mention that I have recently visited the country.

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Based of the lives of the author’s mother and grandparents, MISS BURMA tells the story of modern-day Burma through the eyes of one family struggling to find love, justice, and meaning during a time of war and political repression.

Charmaine Craig’s novel is a fictionalized account of her mother’s extraordinary life, from growing up in Burma during the Japanese occupation to winning the national beauty pageant and becoming an army commander’s wife.

CAN THERE BE ethnic identity without tribalism? Does loyalty to our group honor the sacrifices of our ancestors, or does it prevent us from seeing ourselves as part of the human family? This is the topic of a heated conversation some hundred pages into Charmaine Craig’s epic novel Miss Burma, between two characters whose groups have historically been oppressed: Benny, a Burmese-born Jew, and Saw Lay, a member of the country’s Karen ethnic minority group. “Surely you know ‘unity’ is just the word tyrants use before heads begin to roll,” Saw Lay cautions Benny, who is more optimistic about Burma’s prospects as a multi ethnic nation.

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About the Author:
Charmaine Craig studied literature at Harvard College, received her MFA from the University of California at Irvine, and serves as a faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside, where she particularly enjoys teaching literature, the art of the paragraph, and forms of narration. Her first novel, The Good Men (Riverhead), was a national bestseller translated into six languages. Her second novel, Miss Burma (Grove), long-listed for the Protected content Book Award for Fiction, is based on the lives of her mother and grandparents, all born in Burma. Formerly an actor in film and television, she grew up in Los Angeles, where she now resides with her husband, author Andrew Winer, and their daughters.