‘Prisoner of Conscience : My steps Through Insein’ launches in English
ASURGEON, activist, writer, and recipient of several international human rights awards, Ma Thida, who is known under the pseudonym Suragamika celebrated the launch of the Englishlanguage version of her book, Prisoner of Conscience: My Steps Through Insein at the PEN Myanmar office on August 23.
The book recounts Ma Thida’s experience as a political prisoner in Insein Prison and details her relationship with Vipassana, a form of meditation she used to cope during her time. Though a translation, the English version retains the dedication by Burmese poet Sayar U Tin in the original Myanmar language.
Famed Myanmar writer Ma Thanegi was struck by Ma Thida’s work, noting that any audience interested the book will find a way to read it – in either Myanmar or English. “An international audience will take interest in this book because its nature and subject are so unique and rather strange. I am very pleased with this book,” she said.
Ma Thida says she would not have survived Insein Prison were it not for Vipassana, and those who follow Buddhism will understand how her faith and concentration on Buddhist teachings lifted her in times of struggle.
“I would like to share the message that although we may forgive the people who are responsible for my case, they also need to beg for forgiveness,” Ma Thida said.
Still, some of the book’s key concepts may be difficult to understand. As with every translation, there is never an exact transfer of meaning.
To that Ma Thida says simply, “Very well.” She is pleased only that her story is being told and published with such a fervor. Plans are under way to translate her account into German and Italian.
Ma Thida’s harrowing story has already reached a wide audience, with a new and increased popularity in Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand. The Myanmar language version known as Sanchaung, Insein, Harvard was published by Ngardo Sarpay in 2015, though the publishing house has recently re-released the book. Chiang Mai’s Silkworm Books publishing house and Siam Paragon’s Centre of Asian Books store launched the Englishlanguage version on July 28.
Prisoner of Conscience: My Steps Through Insein can be purchased at TAB Book Centre and Myanmar Book Centre in Yangon for US$19. You can also purchase the book online at http://silkwormbooks.com/ products/prisoner-of-conscience.
Ma Thida presents the English-language version of her book, Prisoner of Conscience: My Steps Through Insein, at the PEN Myanmar office on August 23.