Read Little Daughter: A Memoir Of Survival In Burma And The West by Zoya Phan Free Online
Book Title: Little Daughter: A Memoir Of Survival In Burma And The West|
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Reader ratings: 6.6
The author of the book: Zoya Phan
Edition: Simon & Schuster
Date of issue: July 1st 2009
ISBN 13: 9781847374202
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 874 KB
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Read full description of the books:
This is an amazing autobiography on a variety of counts. Most of all I learnt so much, and all of it related by an outstandingly charming and intelligent woman, who has had some incredible experiences - some of them marvellous, and some of them terrifying.
I knew virtually nothing about Burma/Myanmar before reading this book , and now I feel I have sat down over several days, and talked about it with the most enlightened guide possible. Zoya expresses herself wonderfully, and so much about Burma comes alive for us – its history, culture and people. Although this is an autobiography, Zoya was brought up by parents who were resistance fighters against the Burmese dictatorship, and threaded throughout the book are issues and perspectives relating deeply to the politics of her country. We experience Zoya’s life as a child in the jungle, as a refugee in Thailand, as a student in Bangkok, and as a campaigner in the UK. It is an extraordinary story and one told absolutely from the heart.
For the first third of the book we get to experience the idyllic bliss of childhood in a small village in the jungles of Burma. We get to learn about all that wonderful otherness and difference, which makes reading about people in other countries so fascinating. Zoya came from a deeply loving family and a deeply supportive community – and it is great to read about the care she found in both family and society.
We get to learn about all about the Karen people of Burma, plus we learn about the presence of all the other ethnic groups which make up this country. The Karen people don’t even speak Burmese. They had no written language until Britain made Burma a colony (1824-1948), and gave them the Burmese alphabet to write with.
A major issue in the book is the brutal Burmese dictatorships, and their persecution of the Karen and other ethnic people – even the persecution of Burman ethnic group (the main ethnic group in Burma). People were being driven from their homes, to become “Internally displaced persons”, with nowhere to live in their own country. The methods of the Burmese army involved brutal killings, torture, abduction of children to become child soldiers (this happened more in Burma than in anywhere else in the world), slavery and the destruction of crops and homes. Often people were starving.
We are shown the terror of being bombed and chased away from where you live, out into the jungle, and eventually the long march as refugees, over the border into Thailand.
We learn what it is like to be a refugee. What it means to be a legal refugee (recognised by Thailand and the UN) versus what it is like to be a ghost refugee (recognised by no-one, and with access to nothing).
We also get to experience Zoya’s enormous good fortune, and ability to rise up out of the refugee camp, due to her unusual intelligence, and the winning a George Soros scholarship to the University of Bangkok. All the time she was at university though she had to pretend to be Thai. (One of the downsides of being a refugee is that officially you are not allowed to leave the camps.) She did incredibly well there, especially considering that when she arrived she didn’t even know how to use a computer. In fact everything about Bangkok and city life was new to her – the cultural gap between village life and life in the city is huge - and our respect for Zoya goes from strength to strength as we see her determination to come to terms with this whole new experience.
After university she was offered a promising job with a telecommunications company, where she had been placed for work experience and done very well. But instead she chose, along with some other Karen students, to go back into Burma and document what was happening to her people. It was pretty horrendous, and the persecution continued to be terrible.
She then came to the UK as an illegal immigrant to do an MA in Politics and Development. After many legal battles, in 2007, she was granted refugee status. Over here she became heavily involved in campaigns for the people of Burma, and is to this day working for Burma Campaign UK. She is still very active, and very much a spokesperson for the people of Burma. (hide spoiler)]
Highly, highly recommended.
Burma Campaign UK
Myanmar profile from the BBC 16 July 2013
Current news re persecution of the Rohingya people in Burma.
The Guardian 14 July 2013
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