For the sake of continuity I will call Burma Burma and not Myanmar, because that's what it was called when it was under British colonial rule. Burma is really the centerpiece of the story, a whole character unto itself. I should also note that this book was published in 2004 and that some changes have happened with Burma taking tiny steps closer to freedom but it remains a very closed off place with a staggering history of human rights abuses. (Examples: imprisoning anyone who protests the government, censoring of press, basically no free speech. Please see here , here and here for more information).
Ans just in case someone doesn't know where Burma is....
I think the most interesting parts of the book is her interaction with the Burmese. Whenever they talk about Orwell and his writings it has to be in very hushed tones because his books are pretty subversive. I don't want to give too much away but to a lot of the Burmese, Big Brother isn't some frightening dystopian fantasy, it's their everyday life. I wonder how Orwell would feel if he saw Burma now.
This book made me want to reread some classics that I haven't read since mmy early teens,and it educated me immesnly on a country that I knew very little about. It's worth reading just for a short little Burmese parable about the knights and the dragon (page 107 in the paperback). I give it 3.5 stars!