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The Lacquered Curtain of Burma

Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)

The Lacquered Curtain of Burma

Author: Eugene Lawrence
Publisher: Niyogi Books

Award Category: Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
About the Book: 

The Lacquered Curtain of Burma is an account of the shaping of the historical, social, cultural, religious, and political canvas of Burma (now Myanmar) by two powerful events: the British colonial conquest and the Japanese occupation of the country during World War II. The book tries to show how these influenced the dynamics of the Burmese and the ethnic communities—primarily the Karens.

Traversing through historical Burma, the book recounts the country’s strife for independence from colonial Britain and imperial Japan, the post-independence conflicts in the country between the majority Burmese and the ethnic minorities, such as the Karens exploding in insurrection, the military coup of 1962, the stranglehold of successive military juntas, and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s courageous, yet inconclusive, efforts to bring about a decisive change.

Touching on individual lives, the novel creates cameos of Indians who migrated to Burma from then British India, and the Indians who arrived in the country with the Japanese Army and the Indian National Army. Capturing the upheaval of communities, the uprooting of families, and hard sacrifices made by those who could not emigrate, the book portrays the deprivation of peaceful livelihoods to generations of citizens and immigrants alike, forcing many to take up arms in the fight to preserve a heritage and others to restart their lives in new environments.


About the Author: 

Born in 1951 in Rangoon (now Yangon), Burma, Eugene Lawrence’s father was Indian, who had arrived in Burma with the Indian National Army during World War II, and married his mother, a Karen. The family repatriated to India at the end of 1966, sailing on one of the last ships to Madras sent by India to receive Indian refugees.Concluding his higher studies in Bangalore, India, with BA (Hons.) in English Literature, Lawrence relinquished his desire to teach and embraced a more lucrative career that was necessary in order to support his large family. Working in sales and marketing with an Indian company and the financial services division of an MNC based in the United Arab Emirates for 27 years, he devoted 16 years to rural development, advocacy and resource development—notably with Pipal Tree, producing three consecutive e-publications on climate change issues on his return to India. However, he has kept alive his passion for literature, philosophy, history, religion, and music, and has published short stories, and articles in the Deccan Herald. This is his first full-length book.


Review: 

A fascinating book, indeed. The protagonist Stanley comes out as a man of much courage and ingenuity, and wins the hearts of the readers. A must read for those interested in Burmese history and the political cross-currents in the context of South East Asian landscape.
Thecitizen.in

Lawrence embellishes his characters by putting them in different situations and then revels in describing their responses. In the process, bringing out the dislocation, disjointedness and fragmentation in their lives.
Tribune India

Myanmar looks at the future with real power still in the hands of the armed forces. They are in control of the security apparatus. The Nobel Laureate has us believe that this government is committed to justice as a champion of the reconciliation and harmony that will assure the security and rights of all the people of Myanmar. What lies ahead? Only time can tell but for the moment, your guess is as good as mine. A good read.
Ganesh Saili

Touching on individual lives, the novel creates cameos of Indians who migrated to Burma from then British India and the Indians who arrived in the country with the Japanese Army and the Indian National Army. Capturing the upheaval of communities, the uprooting of families, and hard sacrifices made by those who could not emigrate—the book portrays the deprivation of peaceful livelihoods to generations of citizens and immigrants alike, forcing many to take up arms in the fight to preserve a heritage …and many to restart their lives in new environments.
Scribd

This novel brings Burma to readers so authentically that it could have been non-fiction. The political is presented through the personal in Eugene Lawrence’s informative novel from, and of, Burma before it became Myanmar.
Scroll.in

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