The Last Bookstore is pleased to host a conversation between Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen and Charmaine Craig, author of the new novel Miss Burma. Join us for food and drinks following a Q & A and signing.
Based of the lives of the author’s mother and grandparents, Miss Burma tells the story of modern-day Burma through the eyes of one family struggling to find love, justice, and meaning during a time of war and political repression.
It is 1939, and Benny, a young Jewish officer, is working for the British Customs Service in Burma. One day during his shift at the docks, he catches sight of a young woman with hair down to her ankles, standing at the end of a jetty. This is Khin, who belongs to Burma’s Karen ethnic minority group, which for centuries has been persecuted by the Burman majority. She and Benny soon marry, but when World War II comes to Asia, and Rangoon finds itself under threat of the Japanese occupation, the young couple and their baby daughter Louisa are forced to take shelter among Khin’s Karen countrymen in the eastern part of Burma. After the war, the British Empire strikes an independence deal with the Burman Nationalists, led by Aung San, leaving the Karen and other ethnic minority groups in a precarious position. Soon Benny will become an architect of the Karen revolution, which sparks the longest running civil war in recorded history.
Nearly a decade into the civil war. Louisa captures the country’s imagination, becoming Burma’s first national beauty queen. As she navigates her soaring fame and increasingly dire political reality, she will be forced to reckon with her family’s past, the West’s ongoing covert dealings in Burma, and her own loyalty to the cause of the Karen people.
“An epic roman à clef . . . masterfully renders the human condition in matters micro and vast . . . Like many of the best books, Miss Burma feels rooted in its time and place, while also laying bare timeless questions of loyalty, infidelity, patriotism, and identity—not to mention the globally perpetuated unfair treatment of women. It also raises one particularly resonant concern: What does it take to shake us out of complacency?”―ELLE magazine
“Rich and layered, a complex weaving of national and personal trauma . . . Craig has written a captivating second novel that skillfully moves from moments of quiet intimacy and introspection to passages portraying the swift evolution of political events as multiple groups and nations vie for control of Burma’s future. Mesmerizing and haunting.”―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Charmaine Craig studied literature at Harvard College, received her MFA from the University of California at Irvine, and serves as a faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside, where she particularly enjoys teaching literature, the art of the paragraph, and forms of narration. Her first novel, The Good Men (Riverhead), was a national bestseller translated into six languages. Her second novel, Miss Burma (Grove), is based on the lives of her mother and grandparents, all born in Burma. Formerly an actor in film and television, she grew up in Los Angeles, where she now resides with her husband, author Andrew Winer, and their daughters.
Please note that our store has limited capacity (a mere 300!), so get here early.
Those wishing to get books signed will be asked to purchase a copy of the author’s title from The Last Bookstore. Any outside books must be checked with security upon entering the store. This policy applies to all Last Bookstore events unless otherwise noted. Save your receipt; it will be checked when you enter the signing line.