Life After the Fall

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 21 May 2015

RANGOON — Nearly 130 years after King Thibaw was sent into exile in the Indian town of Ratnagiri, Burmese readers will have a chance to learn about the life and struggles of the country’s last monarch.

Originally published in English, Sudha Shah’s ‘The King in Exile: The Fall of the Royal Family of Burma’ has been translated into Burmese by Win Nyein, editor in chief of Shwe Amyutay magazine and the Ray of Light weekly.

Win Nyein told the audience at the translation’s Rangoon launch party on Thursday that he spent an arduous two years working through Shah’s book, but he was pleased with the result.

“The book reveals some unknown facts about the royal family in Ratnagiri and is a historical record of the times,” he said.

Sudha Shah told The Irrawaddy that it took her eight years to write the book and said she was engrossed by her research.

“I’m very pleased that my book is being launched in Burmese,” she said via email on Wednesday. “It will bring me much satisfaction if the people in Burma who read it feel that the book does justice to the subject, that it has been written sensitively, and that it brings alive for them a historically significant but largely forgotten family,” the author added.

Devi Thant Cin, the great-granddaughter of King Thibaw said that the book was a window into much more than last years of the deposed king.

“Sudha Shah is more interested in what happened to the royal family members, how they lived and struggled—probably an unknown story to many Burmese. She filled the gap that was left by historians and academics who only cared about what the king did and his achievements,” she said.

A Thai edition of the book was published last October and proved so popular that it has been reprinted five times in the months since. A translation into Marathi, the official language of Ratnagiri, will be published in June.