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A memoir of living through good times and bad in Burma before an escape to a new life of freedom, BURMA MY MOTHER is published in both ebook and pdf formats.

Author Sao Khemawadee Mangrai grew up in Shan state in the north-east of Myanmar, previously known as Burma, and now lives in Sydney. Her memories are infused by the beauty of the country and the grace of the Buddhist culture.

She also writes candidly about her life before and after the assassination of the independence leader, General Aung San in 1947. On that sad day, sitting beside the General was a Shan chief, Sao Sam Htun, who was assassinated alongside him, one of a total of nine killed in the attack on the government’s Executive Council meeting.

Khemawadee had no idea then that she would later marry his son, who would also suffer under the military regime, thrown into prison without cause for 5 years.

Her memoir was written during a weekly memoir class held in Surry Hills facilitated by Sydney School of Arts & Humanities.



“I would encourage anyone interested in what life was like in the days when Myanmar was Burma to seek out a copy. In this gently paced book Sao Khemawadee Mangrai’s voice is beguiling – her hardships and her joys are told with humour, candour and an uncanny eye for detail. This is a rare personal account of a way of life that has all but disappeared. How fortunate for us that Khemawadee has shared her story.” Helen Burns, writer.

“An extraordinary life told with clarity, gentle humour and revealing an inner strength. I couldn’t put it down. Very much recommended.”
Catherine Bloor, English-History teacher.

“Khemawadee’s memoir is unique among stories of exile from the authoritarian regimes of Burma because she is shown to be a shy and frail figure, one who had to strive hard to stay resilient over her lifetime. Even though hers is a touching story of a young woman surrounded by family, it speaks out for all the Burmese, particularly Shans, whose promising futures were shattered because of the harshness of life under the military rule imposed by the generals. The dark shadow of the past is still lurking behind many families, and scars can still be seen in Biddy’s account of her life story.”
Maung Maung Than, broadcast journalist, BBC World Service.

“Sao Khemawadee Mangrai’s autobiography, Burma My Mother, can be read at two levels. At the first, it is a straight-forward, detailed and highly personal account of the author’s childhood and adult years, interwoven with intimate descriptions of her family members, and their trials and tribulations during a very turbulent period of Burmese history.

At another level, the book offers a range of insights into the lives of the Shan elite before and during the Second World War, and under General Ne Win’s military rule. Some prior knowledge of Burma helps in fully appreciating the nuances of the author’s fascinating story, but even to someone unfamiliar with the country it is an enjoyable and rewarding work that shines a light on a place and a time that have for too long been neglected.”
Andrew Selth, Adjunct Associate Professor, Griffith Asia Institute.

“A beautifully written book! I couldn’t put it down and memories of my own childhood and early married life in Hsi Paw came rushing back. Her unbelievable control of the memory of little intimate details of her life is amazing and I read her memoirs with homesickness, pride and a renewed love of motherland.” Marla Kennedy.

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