With current events in Myanmar moving towards a major confrontation between the military junta and the people, Thierry Falise’s French language biography of Aung San Suu Kyi is an important reminder of her role in the country’s hope for democracy to be restored
One of the great things about living in Bangkok is that it is full of interesting people. Recently I met Thierry Falise, a veteran Belgian photojournalist who has covered numerous stories in South East Asia since the 1980s. Amongst all his other work, Thierry has written a biography of Burmese NLF leader Aung San Suu Kyi which was published earlier this year.
Le Jasmine Ou La Lune is written in Thierry’s native French, and unfortunately it’s beyond my schoolboy grasp of the language. It pains me greatly that it hasn’t already been translated into English as Thierry’s book is not a general biography of Suu Kyi like Justin Wintle’s Perfect Hostage – it is more of an intimate portrait from many people who know Suu Kyi first hand. Thierry himself has met her on several occasions and his photos of Suu Kyi grace the front covers of several editions of the US and UK editions of her books (Freedom From Fear and Letters From Burma). Here is part of the back cover blurb on Le Jasmine Ou La Lune:
“A biography in French based on the recent and exclusive testimony of witnesses and close friends of the Burmese heroine, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize, still detained in Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi: the fine-featured face, the petite silhouette, the name celebrated throughout the world. But who truly knows this 61-year-old Burmese, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who has become one of the most powerful symbols of the fight against oppression everywhere? Throughout the testimony consisting of anecdotes and conversations often unedited, this book tells the story of the human behind the icon. It also the story of an exceptional woman, of her qualities and faults, her strengths and weaknesses, a woman who has never lacked sincerity, generosity or courage.”
You can read the full details on this page of Thierry’s own website and order the book online from Amazon.fr. I can only assume the chances of this book being published in English translation are directly related to how well it sells in French, so please pass this on to any French language readers who might be interested. I’d love to be able to read this in English myself.
I’ve previously written some other Burma book recommendations if you’re looking for other sides to Burma’s history.
In the meantime, let’s hope that the incredibly brave protests being carried out in Myanmar by monks and ordinary people alike lead to real change and the restoration of democracy, and not the thousands dead that occurred in the last major uprising against the junta in 1988.
If you’re considering travelling in Myanmar at the moment, I’d be very, very careful. If a crackdown begins, the military will not care who gets in their way.