Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 11/30/22 1:26 PM

Book review: The Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle

BURMA CHRONICLES by Guy Delisle. Jonathan Cape Books.

Sometimes – most times – I think I live for moments when I stumble across books that are absolute treasures. This graphic novel  which I spied on my daughter`s bookshelf, and because it was about Myanmar nee Burma, I took home to read just blew me away.

The neat style of illustrations have you poring over the little details; the text that simply, directly,  tells  you about life in one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Delisle, his wife Nadege who was in Burma on Medecins sans Frontieres  work, their baby son Louis,  come to this country for an initial six months which gets extended for another six months, and this book is born.

The author/illustrator touches upon all things big and small in Burma, from The Lady (Ang San Suu Kyi), the drug-addled Kachins in the north, vipassana, censorship of newspapers, street vendors, the baby group he  joins as a stay- at- home parent, taking animation classes for a small group of enthusiasts, to mixing with embassy and consulate folk who predictably have it easy.

The text is like the author`s gaze: unemotional but sympathetic. However, when you read of a gentle people who have been under the  jackboots  of the junta for an interminable time, it gives you much pause for thought. Burma  had a decade of uneasy non-military rule but the junta took over again in 2021 and things are as bad as they were when Delisle wrote and drew this book in 2009.

I`d always wanted to go next door for a visit, to see the glorious Shwedagon pagoda. After reading Delisle, I have decided not to go fill the coffers of the junta. Instead, I will continue devouring all literature on Burma.

I also intend tracking down Delisle`s other travelogues and reading them forthwith.

BurmaBurma Chroniclesgraphic novelGuy Delislelife in MyanmarMyanmartravelogue

Sheila Kumar • November 30, 2022

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