Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
A quest makes a frightening and alien culture accessible
on 13 February 2002
This evocative book has haunted me since I first read it last year.
Rory MacLean weaves the story of his search for traditional Burmese culture (in the form of an antique basket)together with the tragic and profoundly moving lives of some contemporary Burmese. His harrowing and potentially deadly experience at the work's climax, takes his story and experience of Burma far beyond traditional travel literature, as his terror, on the one hand, and frustration and sadness about the destruction of Burmese traditions, on the other, grippingly recall the fear and loss of his earlier subjects.
As he was in his earlier works, the author, is an intriguing character in this book. His uniquely personal involvement in the story and first person narration make the experience immediate and compelling, and as the reader finds herself drawn into his accessible story of the quest, so she gains rare knowledge of what might have remained unknowable: Burma and its people. The basket story not only creates suspense and unifies the book; in a small way, it brings the reader into the drama and emotion experienced by contemporary Burmese.
This book transcends its genre, and warrants reading and rereading. I highly recommend it.