cue the ones they love. Miss Burma By Char­maine Craig, Grove Press, 368 pages, $25

The Hamilton Spectator - - BOOKS -

Char­maine Craig uses his­tor­i­cal events to painstak­ingly paint a pic­ture of mod­ern-day Burma in­spired by the sto­ries of her mother and grand­par­ents, and her words pay beau­ti­ful tribute to th­ese im­por­tant peo­ple in her life. Hus­band and wife duo Benny and Khin meet in Ran­goon, and set­tle there while it is still a part of the Bri­tish Em­pire. Khin is a mem­ber of a re­viled and per­se­cuted mi­nor­ity group called the Karen, and dur­ing the Sec­ond World War the pair must go into hid­ing. Ul­ti­mately, the events that fol­low put them at the cen­tre of great change in the coun­try. The war ends, Aung San rises to power but is then as­sas­si­nated, and Benny and Khin’s el­dest daugh­ter emerges from her tur­bu­lent child­hood to be­come Burma’s first beauty queen — just be­fore the coun­try is pulled un­der by dic­ta­tor­ship. Is­sues of iden­tity, colo­nial­ism, f am­ily ties and the power and weak­ness of beauty are ex­plored here in a novel that is mes­mer­iz­ing and mem­o­rable.

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