On Our Bookshelves: Burmese Days

Book: Burmese Days

Author: George Orwell

Publishing Year: 1934

Brief: A bachelor. His lover. And the eternal life as an expat…


Little known fact, George Orwell was once a young British expat, living in Burma in the 1920s. Not only that, Burmese Days is his first novel, written several years later while working odd intellectual jobs back in London and Paris.

It’s now almost 80 years since Orwell’s masterpiece was published, and I can tell you first hand that nothing seems to have changed about expat life in Asia. Expats are still complaining of the heat and ‘local conditions’ – even though they are waited on by local helpers and living a better life than back at home.

In Burmese Days, we find married and single expats who despite all their grumblings, stay in-country, realizing their life is easier and their accomplishments possibly greater in a faraway land filled with endless opportunity and cheap housecleaning. Also, then and now, it is best to stay out of local politics that you don’t understand.

Whether you want to bemuse yourself with thoughts about how time actually stands still, or how mankind hasn’t made any real progress at the end of the day (one of my favorite bubblegum philosophies), or you just want to read a really good book that takes you back in time without acting like a period piece, Burmese Days is the perfect read.

As an added bonus, you will revel in the ingenuity of Orwell capturing human caricatures that transcend time.

And the book reads even better if you’re planning a trip to Myanmar (before it gets ruined) or if you’re already there.

Rating: Five of five whistles (with five whistles being the best).


Photo courtesy of Michael Wick/Shutterstock.com