Finding George Orwell in Burma


Emma Larkin's travelogue about Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989 by the totalitarian military government) is an exploration of the country's politics, culture, and ties to George Orwell's life and fiction.  In the 1920s, Orwell lived and worked in Burma as an imperial policeman under British colonial rule, and his time there heavily influenced his 1934 novel Burmese Days and several essays.  By tracing Orwell's path through Burma and witnessing the government's use of oppressive, violent tactics against its own people, Larkin draws parallels between the current Burmese political climate and the worlds depicted in both 1984 and Animal Farm.

"The best-known of the seven commandments in Animal Farm is the final one, which states that all animals are equal. Later, as the ruling pigs grown in greed and power, they add an addendum: all animals may be equal, but some animals are more equal than others. In Burma it is the ethnic Burmese who are more equal than others, and the Burmese government practices a policy of 'Burmanization' in ethnic areas."

Emma Larkin is a journalist and the author of Finding George Orwell in Burma and Everything is Broken: A Tale of Catastrophe in Burma. 

Published:  2004
Length:  304 pages
Set in:  Myanmar (Burma)