The Lacquered Curtain of Burma is an account of the shaping of the historical, social, cultural, religious, and political canvas of Burma (now Myanmar) by two powerful events: the British colonial conquest and the Japanese occupation of the country during World War II. The book tries to show how these influenced the dynamics of the Burmese and the ethnic communities—primarily the Karens.
Traversing through historical Burma, the book recounts the country’s strife for independence from colonial Britain and imperial Japan, the post-independence conflicts in the country between the majority Burmese and the ethnic minorities, such as the Karens exploding in insurrection, the military coup of 1962, the stranglehold of successive military juntas, and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s courageous, yet inconclusive, efforts to bring about a decisive change.
Touching on individual lives, the novel creates cameos of Indians who migrated to Burma from then British India, and the Indians who arrived in the country with the Japanese Army and the Indian National Army. Capturing the upheaval of communities, the uprooting of families, and hard sacrifices made by those who could not emigrate, the book portrays the deprivation of peaceful livelihoods to generations of citizens and immigrants alike, forcing many to take up arms in the fight to preserve a heritage and others to restart their lives in new environments.