Have Fun in Burma (Paperback)

A Novel

By Rosalie Metro

Northern Illinois University Press, 9780875807775, 245pp.

Publication Date: March 27, 2018

List Price: 19.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


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 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. Then there’s her 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 communal violence. 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.

About the Author

Rosalie Metro is an anthropologist of education who has been researching Burma/Myanmar since 2000. She holds a PhD from Cornell University, and she is currently an assistant teaching professor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Praise For Have Fun in Burma: A Novel

"[This is] a rare 'finding yourself' travel story done right, gently relating the grit and discomfort of a truly expanding consciousness."
Foreword Reviews

"[Have Fun in Burma] is an affecting coming-of-age tale, and is perhaps most valuable for its look at Myanmar’s complicated political situation."
Publishers Weekly

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

“Rosalie 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, drawn from her own experience but also from her keen and sensitive observations.” —Matthew J. Walton, University of Oxford

"The central characters are deeply drawn and heartbreakingly illustrative of the suffering endured by many people during military rule."—David Scott Mathieson, Frontier Myanmar 

"Have Fun in Burma is about American privilege — its blinders and who wears them, its costs and who pays. The book avoids becoming merely a vehicle for a lesson on the Muslim/Buddhist conflict or Burma. As Adela suffers, we see that even suffering in certain ways is a privilege. It makes one wonder: How am I suffering? How bad is it, really? How lucky am I?" — Peter Biello, Necessary Fiction