FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Miss Burma tells the story of modern-day Burma through the eyes of Benny and Khin, husband and wife, and their daughter Louisa. After attending school in Calcutta, Benny settles in Rangoon, then part of the British Empire, and falls in love with Khin, a woman who is part of a long-persecuted ethnic minority group, the Karen. World War II comes to Southeast Asia, and Benny and Khin must go into hiding in the eastern part of the country during the Japanese Occupation, beginning a journey that will lead them to change the country's history.
After the war, the British authorities make a deal with the Burman nationalists, led by Aung San, whose party gains control of the country. When Aung San is assassinated, his successor ignores the pleas for self-government of the Karen people and other ethnic groups, and in doing so sets off what will become the longest-running civil war in recorded history. Benny and Khin's eldest child, Louisa, has a danger-filled, tempestuous childhood and reaches prominence as Burma's first beauty queen soon before the country falls to dictatorship. As Louisa navigates her newfound fame, she is forced to reckon with her family's past, the West's ongoing covert dealings in her country, and her own loyalty to the cause of the Karen people.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of Burma from the 1940s to the 1960s, Miss Burma is a powerful and epic novel that follows one prominent Burmese family struggling to overcome war and political repression while trying to build a meaningful life.
NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH
Divided by Tim Marshall
Walls are going up. Nationalism and identity politics are on the rise once more. Over 6,000 miles of fences and barriers have been erected in the past ten years, and they are redefining our political landscape.
There are many reasons why walls go up, because we are divided in many ways: wealth, race, religion, politics. In Europe the divisions of the past decade threaten not only European unity, but in some countries liberal democracy itself. In China, the Party’s need to contain the divisions wrought by capitalism will define the nation’s future. In the USA the rationale for the Mexican border wall runs deeper than the need to control illegal immigration; it taps into the fear that the USA will no longer be a white majority country during the course of this century. Understanding what has divided us, past and present, is essential to understanding much of what’s going on in the world today.
In ten chapters covering The Great Divides; China; the USA; the UK; Europe; the Middle East; India and Bangladesh; Africa; The Spaces In Between; and The Bridges Across, bestselling author Tim Marshall presents an unflinching and essential overview of the faultlines that will shape our world for years to come.