“Have Fun in Burma is filled with startling images and surprising bits of wisdom. Metro has created both a compelling story and a keen-eyed examination of a young American woman’s place in a globalized—yet also highly particularized—world.” —Keija Parssinen, author of The Unraveling of Mercy Louis
“It will be a disturbing read—but necessarily so—for those who are still taken with Myanmar’s ‘democratic transformation’…. This book will change the context, the rationale, and the approach to volunteerism.” —KhinZaw Win, director of the Tampadipa Institute, former prisoner of conscience
“Metro has written an evocative novel of modern Myanmar that deserves to be recognized as one of the pieces of literature that will help to both explain and define the country's current transition. She writes with authority about the country's politics and about Buddhist practice.” —Matthew J. Walton, University of Oxford
Bookworm Adela Frost wants to do something with her life. When a chance encounter and a haunting dream steer her toward distant Burma, she decides to spend the summer after high school graduation volunteering in a Buddhist monastery. Adela finds fresh confidence as she immerses herself in her new environment, teaching English to the monks and studying meditation with the wise abbot. She finds a surrogate mother in a kindly nun and develops a secret romance with Thiha, an ex-political prisoner with a shadowy past.
But when some of the monks express support for the persecution of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, Adela glimpses the turmoil that lies beneath Burma’s tranquil surface. While investigating the country’s complex history, she becomes determined to help stop the communal violence that has broken out across the nation. With Thiha’s assistance, she concocts a scheme that quickly spirals out of control. Adela must decide whether to back down or double down, while protecting those she cares about from the backlash of Buddhist and Muslim extremists. Set against the backdrop of Burma’s fractured transition to democracy, this coming-of-age story weaves critiques of “voluntourism” and humanitarian intervention into a young woman’s quest for connection across cultural boundaries. This work of literary fiction will fascinate Southeast Asia buffs and anyone interested in places where the truth is bitterly contested territory.