Subscribe Now

travelers today

Home » Leisure

Myanmar's First Literary Festival: Irrawaddy Literary Festival, Showcased Local and International Writers

Travelers Today       By    Lena Vazifdar

Updated: Feb 04, 2013 03:15 PM EST

Text Size: A A A

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi gives a speech at Myanmar's first literary festival.(Photo : Reuters)

Myanmar's first literary festival, Irrawaddy Literary Festival was hosted on Feb. 1-3 in Yangon. The weekend event featured a diverse selection of acclaimed local and international writers.

This is an important turning point for Myanmar as in the recent past this type of festival would never have been allowed due to strict visa restrictions and censorship laws.

Jane Heyn, the festival organiser and wife of the British ambassador to Burma, said she first had the idea for the event two years ago, but her plans could not come to fruition until now because of the visa laws on foreigners.

Share This Story

"The overriding reason for having the festival was to give Burmese people a chance to read modern literature," she said to The BBC. "In many ways that was the inspiration, seeing how difficult it was to find new, modern, affordable literature. Everything was scored through with the censor's pen, it was impossible,"

Festival patron and Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi  said on the festival's website, "I am delighted to lend my support and personal participation to this first Irrawaddy Literary Festival. Literature has always been a big part of my life and I hope this festival, which brings together some of the finest talent from Burma, the UK and elsewhere will encourage more people to explore the world of literature and further their understanding of the English language."

The festival featured a number of notable literary participants including Jung Chang who wrote the books "Wild Swans" Three Daughters of China and "Mao: The Unknown Story." International writers included Fergal Keane, Rory MacLean, William Dalrymple George FitzHerbert, Nick Danziger and many more. Amongst the local writers Thant Myint U, Pascal Khoo-Thwe and U Thaw Kaung participated.

The official ending of censorship in Myanmar occured last August and a budding literary revival is underway. The BBC reported that during its 50 year reign of censorship, the country had some of the strictest controls on speech of anywhere in the world. Writers, photographers and creative in Myanmar faced imprisonment if any of the work they created was seen as offensive by government run censors.

Kho Thwe who is from Myanmar returned for the first time in 23 years to attend the festival after living in the UK and Norway in exile.

"Now the fog has lifted... for me it would have been unimaginable o think 20 years ago that we would have this much freedom, to come and celebrate things that were outlawed in the past," he said to the BBC.

Some writers believe the festival to be a sign that Myanmar's future of freedom of expression is making a bold turning point.

"The happening of this literature festival suggests that writers are going to have more freedom to write and are going to be able to express themselves more than before,"Jung Chang said to the BBC. "Myanmar seems to be going towards that goal of people feeling free to write and to publish and I think that is a wonderful thing and I wish the same process in China, where my books are banned."

Author of the books "The River of Lost Footsteps" and "Where Chian Meets India, Thant Myint-U spoke of Burma's rich literary culture.

"This is an incredibly literary culture," he said to The BBC."People read a lot, I don't know if it's because there is not much electricity and they don't have TV, but I think it's always been the case, it has survived for whatever reason."

© 2015 Traverlers Today, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Join Our Conversation

Travel Tips

European City

Managing a Home Stay on your Travels Abroad

Whether a student or avid traveler, staying with a host family can be an amazing experience with first hand exposure to the culture, language, and food. But, of course there are fears and worries about staying with a family you have never meet, and the host family has them too about letting a stranger into their home. You want this time that you are staying with them to be enjoyable, full of intercultural learning and exchanges.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest travel news, reviews, and more..

Want more Travel?

Most Popular

Memorial grows for 4 men shot in killed in San Francisco shooting Friday night

San Francisco Shooting: 4 Murdered In Hayes Valley, Suspects Still Hunted, Gang Related Shooting?

San Francisco Shooting – Four men were murdered in the upscale Hayes Valley neighborhood Friday night, according to authorities. The victims of the San Francisco shooting who were reportedly shot to death were found shot inside a black 2005 Honda parked near the corner of Page and Laguna streets.

Mass Unity Rallies Held Around The World Following Recent Terrorist Attacks

United States Issues Worldwide Travel Alert: Recent Terror Attacks In Paris And Hostage Taking In Sydney

United States issues worldwide travel alert following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Sydney. This alert comes after the announcement that French police have once again managed to track down and kill three of the hostage takers involved in the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Major Floods Swamp Metro Detroit Area

Interstate 94 Pileup: Lanes Reopen After Deadly 193-Vehicle Pileup

Interstate 94 Pileup – After the deadly pileup involving more than 100 cars in the Interstate 94 at Michigan, all lanes have now reopened. The lanes have reopened on Sunday, which was two days after the pileup that claimed one life while leaving more than a dozen injured.

Alcohol poisoning kills 6 Americans every day

US Government Alcohol Poisoning Kills 6 People Daily, Victims Mostly Middle-Aged Adults

US Government Alcohol Poisoning – According to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,200 people die from alcohol poisoning each year in the United States, meaning there it can kill an average of six people daily.

Truck Tribute Planned For West Gate Bridge Tragedy's Darcey Freeman

Girl Thrown From Westgate Bridge: Incident From 2009 Repeats, Five Year Old Daughter Thrown From Florida Bridge, What Led To Fathers' Actions?

Girl Thrown From Westgate Bridge – In 2009, a four year old girl was thrown from the Westgate Bridge by none other than her father. Six years after the tragic incident, it appears the same fate had occurred to a five year old girl who was thrown from the Florida Bridge. What led to both fathers decision to throw away such precious lives?

Nine earthquakes which ranged from magnitudes 1.6 to 3.6 rattled North Texas in less than 24 hours

North Texas Dallas Nine Earthquakes In Under 24 Hours, Fracking Caused Earthquake Cluster?

North Texas Dallas Nine Earthquakes – Nine earthquakes which ranged from magnitudes 1.6 to 3.6 rattled North Texas in less than 24 hours. The North Texas Dallas nine earthquakes late Tuesday and early Wednesday had experts turning to seismic data to help determine the reason for the cluster of quakes, with fracking suspected as one of them.

Hundreds Of Thousands Displaced By Fighting In Eastern Ukraine

Ukraine Bus Crash: 12 Servicemen Killed, 21 Injured, What Led To Crash?

Ukraine Bus Crash – Twelve servicemen were killed in a bus crash in eastern Ukraine while 20 were left injured. Reports claim that the bad weather in the area was to blame for the crash involving a military truck and a bus. The incident happened late Monday in the area were pro-Russian separatists are battling with the army.

Scene Of Bombing In Istanbul

Suicide Bomber Blows Up: Kills Police Officer At The Scene, Second Attack On Police Recorded In Istanbul

Suicide Bomber Blows Up – A seemingly innocent female had entered the police station in Istanbul to report a missing wallet. However, minutes after getting the attention of the cops in the station, the woman then detonated bombs strapped to her body. She had killed one policeman while severely injuring another.

Demonstrations Over Recent Grand Jury Decisions In Police Shooting Deaths Continue

Officer Shot In Bronx: Police Officers Respond To Robbery, Get Shot In Car, Shooter Still At Large

Officer Shot In Bronx – Apparently, another case of cops getting attacked have been on the rise. The latest incident involves two NYPD cops responding to a robbery call. Both officers were shot but thankfully their injuries posed no threat.

Find Us on Facebook

travelers today

© Copyright 2015 Travelers Today All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Real Time Analytics