January 4, 2008

from the land of green ghosts

I read (and listen to) many books, comprised of many genres. Periodically I like books that take me into other countries, whether they are biographical or historical fiction. I really like walking in the shoes of people to better get the context of 'the facts' about a place. The stories that carry the information give me a deeper understanding of a culture.

I just finished reading the book entitled above. It's a Burmese Odyssey by Pascal Khoo Thwe. This young man is surprisingly literate having grown up in the jungles of Burma, from the Padaung tribe famous for their 'giraffe-necked' women. He was a part of the earlier military dictatorship battles, finally able to escape to England, and graduate from Cambridge. But I can picture Burma better now when I hear the news of the thousands of red-robed Buddhist monks marching, and hear that Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest, whom Pascal had put his hopes in.

Now when I hear of Darfur news I'm taken there from having read What is the What by Dave Eggers - a novel and autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the early "Lost Boys of the Sudan" (you can watch that documentary). I now have an understanding of behind the scenes of what's going on there.

I feel I understand more of Africa's history from a variety of books over the years. Like one from two guys bicycling across northern Africa, to The Poisonwood Bible in the Congo, to James Mitchner's huge book on South Africa.

I don't know if I can say I'm looking forward to watching "The Kite Runner", but I do want to see it having read the book. It's a good picture of life before and during Taliban rule. Then I lived with women in the Muslem Middle East world, from Reading Lolita in Tehran.

My latest genre in audio books is murder mysteries. I've enjoyed trying to solve mystery stories since I was a kid, like the old Perry Mason TV shows.
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