Smile as they Bow


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In a culture less-reliant on the individual, the narrative drifts casually into and out of any head, sometimes in the same paragraph.

Smile as they Bow by Nu Nu Yi | Hachette Books

It is not confusing, rather a contribution to the disorientation if the feast. Third, I love that such a simple narrative arc is present, without any flash or explosions or real resolutions. The glimpses into the past, and the future witnessed in the drug-addled and impoverished old transvestite alone in the poorest areas paint a clear picture of life and death for beautiful, passionate men, and all the people whose prayers are stuffed into their turbans and carried into the temple of the ancestral gods.

I hope you get a chance to check it out. McDermott is the author of six novels and two short story collections including the critically-acclaimed Dogsland trilogy, and Women and Monsters. He lives in San Antonio, TX. Skip to content. Essay: J. There are three things I love: First, the characters are so terrifically unhappy. Search for:.


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  • Smile As They Bow by Nu Nu Yi.
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Though allowed to express herself freely, Daisy Bond must nonetheless keep up appearances before other natkadaws, illustrated in the story through her frustrations with maintaining her primary status symbol within the community, Min Min. During the spirit festival itself, Daisy Bond must also perform, quite literally, presenting the pilgrims with that which they have journeyed in order to experience.


  1. Book Summary: Smile as they Bow – Nicole | Censorship in Literature?
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  4. In Smile As They Bow, Taungbyon village stands as an example of backstage, a locale somewhat distanced from major populations, but which becomes a sort of city during nat pwe. Goffman suggests that backstage the performer may subsist with false personas and behave on impulse. Living in the village, Daisy Bond at that time called U Ba Si, his birth name , eventually experienced role fatigue , having grown tired of playing a false part after such a long duration. This role fatigue led Daisy Bond to engage in deroling , dropping the pretense of her socially accepted false identity as a masculine straight male.

    While backstage is viewed as a relatively safe space, it is nonetheless marginalized by frontstage agency. Benedicte Brac de La Perriere has suggested that nat worship is merely ritualized distancing and re-embracing of central power in Burma, which seems a somewhat oversimplified explanation, though perhaps not entirely untrue.

    Some anthropologists have suggested that while nat worship functionally institutionalizes past social confrontations between localities and centralized power, the rituals also serve to mitigate disputes between these same two forces. As stated earlier, however, the main motivation of the allowance of nat spirits seems to be the physical ties to localities within Burma that help to confirm notions of Burmese national identity. The Stonewall Riots in New York city, seen as the pivotal commencement of the gay rights movement in the United States, is referenced by Ho in relation to the meinmasha standing up to police.

    The suppressed, stigmatized gay community had finally reached a tipping point, refusing to be marginalized any further. Look at me, I walk anywhere I please. Anthropologist Sarah Berker, however, is keen to call attention to the function of natkadaw as bridges in society, connecting disparate worlds, such as the spiritual and the mundane, the historic and the modern, as well as the homosexual and the heterosexual. Ultimately, the censorship of Smile As They Bow appears to have been based primarily on its exposition of nonconformist gender and sexual identity in Burma, in an attempt by the status quo to suppress a stigmatized community.

    While defiance of central authority has helped the meinmasha to achieve a certain degree of economic and expressive freedom, seemingly in the confines of the organized spirit festival, the Taungbyon gay community remains marginalized to the backstage of Burmese society. Due to cultural conditioning, particularly through religion, the meinmasha retain a strong degree of social stigmata.


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    The groundbreaking work of Nu Nu Yi has revealed key aspects of the cultural realities of gay existence in Burma, as evidenced mainly through the natkadaw and their husbands. Through the story of Smile As They Bow , a picture emerges of an all too familiar scenario in which members of society are marginalized due merely to issues of gender and sexual identity. Allot, Anna J. September Last accessed April 27, Cohen, Abner. The Politics of Elite Culture. Ford, Emily. February 4, Gibbons, Don C. The Study of Deviance: Perspectives and Problems. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

    Hare, A. Paul and Blumberg, Herbert H. Dramaturgical Analysis of Social Interaction. New York: Praeger.

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    Ho, Tamara C. Manning, Philip. Erving Goffman and Modern Sociology. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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    Peletz, Michael G. Gibbons and Joseph F. Michael G. Hare and Herbert H. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

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