A couple’s love for each other and their children is tested through World War II and then through Burma’s long civil war.
When Benny, a young Jewish Burmese man, meets a woman named Khin, he is instantly drawn to her though she's part of a persecuted ethnic minority group, the Karen. WWII has just begun, and Burma’s future as part of the British empire is uncertain. Benny and Khin marry, but their relationship is strained by their inability to speak the same language and by the religious and ethnic persecution they each face as Burma is drawn into years of war. Benny takes an increasingly active role in the military through WWII and into the Karen attempt at revolution, and Khin is forced to provide for their four children when he is tortured and imprisoned. Their eldest daughter, Louisa, comes of age during the constant upheaval and becomes the surprise winner of the Miss Burma pageant, unintentionally subverting her family’s war efforts by becoming a national symbol of unity. Based on her own family’s history, Craig’s (The Good Men, 2002) novel is rich and layered, a complex weaving of national and personal trauma. Even as Benny and Khin navigate love and betrayal, pulled between obligation to their family and to their ethnic groups, Louisa also finds she must make her own choices about whether to be loyal to Burma or the Karens. 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.