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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Burmese Chronicles

After this week's headlines, I feel a bit cynical about posting this post. But ask my coworkers, I have been working on this post for awhile as two weeks ago I was listening to the Leonard Lopate show and the whole episode was devoted to the human rights and health issues in Burma which echoed the conversation we had with Guy Delisle when he came to visit Montreal in 2006. Guy's next book is about the year he spent in Burma while his wife was working with Doctors without Borders and their son. The book is due out in Fall 2008, and is now being translated and then off to be handlettered.

I checked in with our translator Helge to see what she had to say about the book. Here are among some of the issues Guy looks into: The country's bizarre decision to transfer its capital to Pyinmana; the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi; the strange shape of newspapers and magazines that arrive with objectionable material literally cut out by scissor-wielding censors; the fear locals have of speaking with journalists--justified, since imprisonment is the likely consequence of being found out; the complex conditions under which Doctors Without Borders and other organizations work in Burma; the issue of heroin use, with almost the entire population of an outlying village visited by Guy found to be shooting up...

With demonstrations for democracy 10 days straight now and today's sad news that a journalist has died (along with nine others) in Myanmar (the official name of the country recognized by the U.N. since 1989), the country barring journalists to enter and cutting off its internet (which based on my experience of communicating with Guy while he was in Burma for the debut of Pyongyang was already spotty), I can't help but think that Guy's book--similar to Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea--will provide a very important viewpoint of a country where objective journalism in not allowed and one can be punished for, a view point that only comics can provide, when cameras and computers are effectively outlawed.

Here is a wordless page from the book.


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