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Everywhere you go in Burma, you see people reading, though they sometimes have to hire a book or magazine by the hour. In Mandalay, the enviable Aye Myint retired from the world in his early twenties and spent forty years ‘sequestered in his library’ of over a thousand books, each carefully wrapped in a plastic bag to protect it from mould and the deprivations of white ants. He showed three volumes with especial pride to a foreign visitor: the ‘Burmese books’ of George Orwell – Burmese Days, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.
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