Title: Burmese Moons.
Writer(s): Sophie Ansel.
Translated by: Jeremy Melloul.
Artist(s): Sam Garcia.
Letterer(s): Frank Cvetkovic.
Publisher: IDW Publishing.
Release Date: September 17th 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Historical Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
To escape the harsh reality we live in, we often find refuge in countless works of fiction. These stories that allow us to escape and entertain us aren’t, however, an excuse to turn a blind eye on the cruelty that proliferates around the world and sometimes right under us. It’s often quite easy for many of us to feel less concerned by events that occur outside of our immediate environment and even more when a whole ocean separates us from it. The perfect example is the myriad of wars that see no end around the world that are barely a little gnawing thought at the back of our heads while others remain completely oblivious to their existence. Following her journey in Burma, Malaysia, Thailand and other surrounding countries from 2007 to 2012, Sophie Ansel shares an eye-opening and tragic story based on the People Power Uprising of 1988.
What is Burmese Moons about? Right in the jungle of Burma lies a tribe of the Zomi ethnic group where the young Thazama and his buddy Moonpi thrive towards adulthood and embrace the customs and beliefs of their community. While secretly in love with Kim, Thazama isn’t, however, ready for what life has in store for him. The Burmese revolution of 1988 thus begins and the Zomi tribe is dumbstruck as the brutal military rulers of Myanmar wreak havoc and force everyone into slavery and torture. Following each of their tragic life trajectories, the story unveils a tale of hardship with almost no hope at the end of the tunnel. All they have left is to fight for freedom through resistance until their stories are heard by the right people.
In all honesty, I only knew about Aung San Suu Kyi back in high school and how she became a prominent icon but never got around to further document myself on the context and her role during the 1988 uprisings. This graphic novel served as an excellent and accessible entry point to understanding the worse of the war that developed and what it has done to many of the inhabitants and the generations to come. It is to be noted that this story felt like a descent into tragedies that only seemed to get worse as you flipped through the story, with not a single moment of respite. While it might have been a perfect portrayal of the lives of some people, this massacre of a burgeoning revolution won’t allow any sunshine throughout your reading experience as it portrays the cruelest facets of humankind.
Inevitably, the message behind this story is clear and invites those who indulge freedom on a daily basis within a democracy, to take action and fight for those who have lost theirs in the midst of these futile wars. To do so, the story felt like it was hammering countless inhuman acts, one after the other, to make it clear to the reader that there’s absolutely nothing pretty about this military dictatorship. The artwork wasn’t also my cup of tea, with a very rough and unrefined style that still, however, did a decent job in portraying the horrors that unfold throughout this tragic story. The dialogues are also sometimes too clean and dramatically change in tone, as it swaps around from foul language to poetic messages. While the ideas were all there, it was in the flow that it never ebbed to my liking.
Burmese Moons is an astonishing and shocking tale of the perseverance of a community stripped of its freedom in their own country.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!