sweet pea's Reviews > Smile As They Bow

Smile As They Bow by Nu Nu Yi
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's review
Dec 29, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: adult-content, queer
Read in December, 2008

this book is an amazing glimpse into a world few outside of Burma could witness. all the more amazing is that this is the first novel by an author living in Burma to be translated and published in the US.

the novel takes place during a week-long festival featuring natkadaws who channel spirits (nats) to give guidance to festival-goers. natkadaws can be either male or female. but the majority are queer males who dress in elaborate costumes to channel particular nats and dance for offerings. the novel focuses on Daisy Bond,one of the most illustrious. s/he's also notoriously bitchy and insanely jealous as well as strong (standing up to the police) and wildly successful. the plot centers on the festival and her husband Min Min and his attraction to a beggar girl.

an absorbing snapshot of a festival i hope exists. the writing is evocative and takes you right to the setting. history lessons are sprinkled throughout to add context. humor is weaved in the plot as well. my favorite quote is, "...and Daisy returns the standard meinmasha greeting: "What's it to you, fatherfucker?"" i feel privileged to have read this chronicle of life in Burma.
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