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Wendy Law-Yone
Irrawaddy Tango

Original Airdate: June 15, 1994


About the Author

Wendy Law-Yone was born in Mandalay, Burma, and identifies herself as half-Burman, a quarter Chinese and a quarter English. The imprisonment of her father, the editor of an English-language Burmese newspaper, prevented her from entering a university. And at one point, she was imprisoned herself after failing to escape to Thailand.

She managed to move to Washington D.C. in 1973 and graduated from Eckert College in St. Petersburg, Florida, two years later. She did freelance work for the Washington Post and, in 1987, won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for her novel "Irrawaddy Tango." In 2002, she added to that a David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship from the University of East Anglia. The notability of Law-Yone’s work has been attributed to her unique cultural perspective.


About this Book

In her second novel, Law-Yone has created another Asian female protagonist ravaged by the inhumanity of a cruel and crazy world dominated by impotent old men. The heroine grows up in the small, insular town of Irrawaddy and dreams of one day making it in the big world. Her only claim to fame is her knack for the Tango, which gets her the attention of the then-incubating strongman of the country, the Supremo. Her marriage and her life are irrevocably lost when she is kidnapped by a guerrilla group fighting for independence and the Supremo refuses to bail her out. Even though the novel is set in an imaginary country Daya, the almost surreal mixture of East and West, the totalitarian tendencies, the ethnic strife and the general lack of sense in daily life aptly suggest a number of South-Asian countries.


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