Three Books by Papillon

Papillon Burma Books

Introduced by a friend, I spent the last two weeks reading books by a Burmese Writer, Papillon. The writer’s pseudonym is the reverse-romanization of Henri Charrière’s nickname ‘Papillon’ in Burmese.

Although all books are written in first person narrative, the writer has never admitted nor denied that these are the true stories. Regardless, it felt like they are based on the real events with a few amount of fictionalization. Well, that’s what writers do. They fictionalize things or mix the reality with fiction to have a fancy brew.

Recently published book, ‘Tumbled tresses, old scent of a dream and 20 years with Ko Than Chaung’, featured two novellas. Intriguing to have these two as one book. To me, they seem to be contradicting to one another, like two sides of a coin, provoking different emotion in each story. Tumbled tresses was a reminiscently moving story of one’s first love. 20 years told Papi’s encounter with one prominent friend in his adult years. Through thick and thin, they were together and helped each others in any possible way. The adversities of these two were told poignantly.

‘Traumas of Maxim-Papi’ and ‘Peri Peri Chicken’ include short short-stories of Papi himself, people he had met throughout his life and a handful of reflections on some books and movies. It was like seeing one’s life in snippets. Traumas of Maxim-Papi is the combination of his previous two books Maxim-Papi and Traumas. I prefer the stories from Peri Peri Chicken. The stories are balanced and succinct. However, he has quite a tendency to drop names—songs, books and public figures—in his books. It felt a little too abundant. He might just want to express his opinions for them but for my taste, I don’t like having too many name droppings in stories. Besides, it reduces the credibility in one’s literary skill in my personal opinion. Or perhaps I shouldn’t have read both books in one sit since they are the collections of short stories. I’d better randomly pick one or two short stories a day.

Being an avid reader himself and seasoned with various circumstances in his life, the writer’s storytelling is brilliant. He knows how to pocket the reader’s interest.

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