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Paul Auster

Paul Auster is the author of Man in the Dark, Travels in the Scriptorium, The Brooklyn Follies, Oracle Night, and The Book of Illusions, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honors are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis etranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/ Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt was born in Northfield, Minnesota in 1955 and moved to New York City in 1978. She received a PhD in English literature at Columbia University in 1986. She is the author of four novels, The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved, and The Sorrows of an American, as well as two nonfiction books, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting. Another work of nonfiction, The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves, a neurological memoir that explores the mind/body question, will be published in 2010.

Hustvedt’s work has appeared in numerous publications around the world including The Yale Review, The New York Times, Conjunctions, Modern Painters, The Guardian, Die Zeit, and Liberation. She has also given lectures on art at The Prado Museum in Madrid and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Her work has been translated into twenty-nine languages. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Siri Hustvedt

Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh is one of India’s best-known writers. His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, The Hungry Tide. His most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy.

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexandria and Oxford and his first job was at the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi. He earned a doctorate at Oxford before he wrote his first novel, which was published in 1986.

The Circle of Reason won the Prix Medicis Etranger, one of France’s top literary awards, and The Shadow Lines won the Sahitya Akademi Award & the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the Grand Prize for Fiction at the Frankfurt International e-Book Awards in 2001. The Hungry Tide won the Hutch Crossword Book Prize in 2006. In 2007 Amitav Ghosh was awarded the Grinzane Cavour Prize in Turin, Italy.

He is married to the writer Deborah Baker, and has two children, Lila and Nayan. He divides his time between Kolkata, Goa and Brooklyn.

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Amitav Ghosh

Karen Connelly

Karen Connelly’s first book of poetry, The Small Words in My Body, won the Pat Lowther Award. Her first book of prose, Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal — an account of the year she spent in Thailand at seventeen — won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction in 1993; at twenty-four, she was the youngest writer ever to win that prize.

The Lizard Cage, Connelly’s first novel, was shortlisted for both the Kiriyama Prize for Fiction and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. To write it, she found she had to lock herself in the cage along with the main character. For nine long years she imagined she was trapped in a windowless, 8 x 10 jail cell. “I cried every day for the first four years that I worked on that book,” Connelly said in an interview with Reader’s Digest. “There were times when I thought I would never be free of it.“ She went on to explain what helped to urge her forward, “I came to realize that I was making my contribution to the largely unwritten history of kindness. At least that’s one of my motives–to contribute to the literature of how people retain and nurture their humanity, particularly in difficult situations.”

Karen Connelly is currently working on a book of essays set in the refugee camps and among the rebel armies along the Burmese-Thai border. She makes her home in Toronto.

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Ma Thida

Ma Thida is a Burmese fiction writer and physician who was named recipient of Brown University’s 2008-09 International Writers Project Fellowship, given to authors facing political harassment, imprisonment or oppression in his or her country of origin. Author of the books The Sunflower and In the Shade of an Indian Almond Tree, among others, Thida has also written many articles and stories about the damage done to her country by successive repressive regimes. In 1993, she was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Yangon’s Insein Jail for her work to promote democratic change in Burma. She was released in 1999 on humanitarian grounds because of health problems. Thida will be in residence at Brown throughout the current academic year.


Nay Win Myint

Nay Win Myint became an established short story writer in 1980. He has published nearly 200 short stories, and is also well known for his novels, works of adolescent literature, travelogues, translations of famous essays and features about the social life and economy of Burma. Two of his short story collections, Twelve Puppet Strings and Sixteen Small Houses, received Burma’s National Literary Award, as did his 2007 novel, Buffalo Fight. In early 2008, he began a series of translations of The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh for Burma’s famous literary magazine, Shwe Amyutay.


Myo Myint Nyein

Myo Myint Nyein started his media career in 1978 as an editor of Sitpyan magazine. In early 1980, he became an editor of Pay Phoo Hlwar magazine, Mahaythi magazine and Gita Thadinzin journal. Just before the 1988 movement he also worked as co-editor of news magazines, Thadin Hlwar and Thadin. In 1988 he took responsibility as leader of the Information section of Burma’s National League for Democracy, NLD, the main opposition party led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and traveled with her on campaign trips. He managed the publication of party newsletters and other books. After Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest, he went back to his former position as editor of Pay Phoo Hlwar magazine. In late 1990, he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for publishing a pamphlet featuring a satirical poem entitled “What’s Happening To Us?.” In 1997 he was sentenced to another seven years imprisonment for contributing to clandestine publications while in prison, including a report describing prison conditions to the United Nations. He was honored by a Canadian Journalists’ Freedom of Expression Award in 2001. In February, 2002, he was released from prison. Since then he has worked as an editor of Alindan journal, Teen magazine and Shwe Amyutay magazine, publishers of the serialized The Glass Palace.


Vicky Bowman

Vicky Bowman was British Ambassador to Burma from 2002 to 2006, having previously served as Second Secretary there from 1990 to 1993. She speaks Burmese and has translated Burmese short stories and poetry as well as contributing to the Lonely Planet Burmese phrasebook. Still a diplomat in the UK Foreign & Commonwealth, she has also served in Brussels as UK spokesman and Cabinet member of European Commissioner Chris Patten. Currently she is job-sharing as Director, Global and Economic Issues in the FCO, London, working on climate change, energy security, development and the G20 Summit. Vicky married artist Htein Lin in 2006, shortly before leaving Burma.


Win Pe

Win Pe was born in Mandalay, Burma, in 1935. At his father’s insistence, he learned to paint and play music before beginning school. He continued his formal studies in Mandalay, and became a student of local artist U Ba Thet. In the early 1960s, Win Pe worked as an illustrator for People’s Daily in Mandalay, and served as the principal of the State School of Fine Arts, Music, and Dancing until the early 70s. Later, he became a film director and wrote screenplays and short stories. In 1994, he came to the U.S., where he was a fellow at the University of Iowa’s International Writers Program before going on to a career as a freelance artist and writer living in New York City. From 1997 until his retirement in 2005, Win Pe was a senior broadcaster and senior editor for Radio Free Asia. Now living in Maryland, he is a full-time painter and writer who is preparing an audio-visual archive of Burmese scholars, politicians, and artists for Open Society Institute’s Burma Project.


Win Tun (‘Mr. Burma’)

Win Tun is a political cartoonist who left Burma in 1990 because of harassment and censorship by the Burmese military junta. Relocating in Thailand, he began publishing his cartoons in the Bangkok Post under the pen-name “Mr. Burma.” Under the same name, he has published magazines, journals and books about democracy, human rights and politics, all for clandestine distribution in his homeland. Win Tun came to New York as a refugee in 1995, where he has since worked as a professional artist and graphic designer, and, since 2005, as volunteer art director and animator for Democratic Voice of Burma t.v., based in Norway. He now distributes his political cartoons in Burma via his webpage,

Mr. Burma

Maung Maung Aung

Maung Maung Aung is a Burmese political cartoonist whose work has appeared in weekly and monthly journals and magazines in Burma since 1970. He has, in addition, had solo exhibitions of his cartoons (1977) and other art (1989). Between 1998 and 2001, he worked in Burma as a graphic artist, designing illustrations for book covers, magazines, movie posters and advertisements. He came to the U.S. in 2001, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

maung maung aung

Chaw Ei Thein

Chaw Ei Thein is a Burmese artist currently living in Viet Nam. In addition to holding a law degree and teaching art to children and mental health patients, she was the founder and curator of the Sunflower Art Gallery in Yangon. In recent years she has gained a reputation for her work in performance art, working in Burma as well as Thailand, Taiwan, China, Japan, and the U.K.

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Htein Lin

Htein Lin is a Burmese painter, performance artist and lawyer whose pieces “The Little Worm in the Ear” and “Guitarist” pioneered modern performance art in Burma. As a visual artist, he has had numerous solo shows since the late 1990s, and his art has been exhibited internationally in London, Thailand, Bath, and Turin. Although he sees himself mainly as an artist, he is also a political activist who has been imprisoned several times within Burma because of his political activities, including six years in Mandalay Jail. He completed 200 painting while in prison using smuggled paints; in the absence of brushes, he used his fingers, cigarette lighters, syringes, carved soap and dinner plates to make his mark. His work from prison was shown at Asia House, London, in 2007. Since Cyclone Nargis struck Burma in May, 2008, Htein Lin has held street performances in London, Paris, Bergen, Oslo and Norway to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis there.

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Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman is a novelist, short story writer, and journalist. Her works of fiction include The Dark Path to the River and No Marble Angels. A former reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, Ms. Leedom-Ackerman has won awards for her nonfiction and has published stories and essays in numerous books, magazines and periodicals. Ms. Leedom-Ackerman is a Vice President of International PEN, and has served as International Secretary of International PEN and as Chair of its Writers in Prison Committee. She is past president of PEN Center USA West and currently serves on the boards of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and Poets and Writers. She also serves on the board of Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, the International Center for Journalists and on the Chairman’s Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace. She is a Trustee of Johns Hopkins University and a Trustee Emeritus of Brown University.


Larry Siems

Larry Siems is Director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. Formerly Director of the Freedom to Write Program at PEN USA West in Los Angeles, Siems spearheaded the establishment of PEN’s Latin American Network and coordinated campaigning on regional freedom of expression issues with PEN centers in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and South America. Siems also administers PEN’s Center Development Program, which has as its goal the establishment and strengthening of PEN centers throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Siems is a poet and nonfiction writer who has written extensively on immigration and cross-cultural issues. His book, Between the Lines: Letters Between Undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans and their Families and Friends, was a finalist for the PEN award for nonfiction in 1993. His work with the undocumented community led to a position at Human Rights Watch, where he researched and co-wrote the America’s Watch Report “Brutally Unchecked: Human Rights Abuses Along the U.S.-Mexico Border.” In addition, Siems’ poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Epoch, The Agni Review, Ironwood, and The Southern Poetry Review. He has also taught literature and writing at the high school and university level.


Patricia V. Symonds

Patricia V. Symonds joined Brown in 1992 as a Visiting Professor of Anthropology. She is now Adjunct Associate Professor with an interest in Southeast Asia and a specialty in minority hill dwellers in Thailand. Her research with the Hmong refugee population in the United States led to further work with that population in the far north of Thailand and Laos. Symonds is a medical anthropologist and she has conducted research on HIV/AIDS in Thailand to discover how culture, political economy, and cosmology can effect populations exposed to this epidemic.

A Brown alumna (A.B., 1979: Ph.D., 1991), Symonds has taught in the Anthropology Department since 1992. She continues research both on the Hmong diaspora to the United States and the Hmong population in Thailand. Issues of Globalization and subsequent changes in life style are of particular interest. Her book Calling in the Soul: Gender and the Cycle of Life in a Hmong Village was a finalist for the Benda Prize in 2005.