Welcome to the site

My name is Michelle Aung Thin.

I am the 2017 National Library of Australia Creative Arts Fellow for Australian Writing, supported by the Eva Kollsman and Ray Mathew’s Trust.

My fellowship project is titled Cosmopolitan Rangoon through the eyes of Gordon Luce or, how the politics of authenticity shape the intimate, and I will be working with private papers from the National Library of Australia’s Luce Collection. Gordon Luce was one of Europe’s foremost scholars on Burma and lived in Rangoon from 1912 until 1964. Here is a link to the Luce Collection at the NLA.

The NLA Fellowship is an important part of my research for my second book, which is about returning to Burma, the country of my birth.

I left Burma, now Myanmar, with my family when I was still an infant, the year after the military coup. Like many who emigrated, we were not allowed return visas until relatively recently. Which meant we were separated from my great grandmother and my grandparents and any sense of what Burma was.

I went back for the first time a few years ago and my current project is about the experience of at last seeing Yangon, the city of my birth. I found myself a witness to the aftermath of decades of military government. I searched for my own past. I am Anglo-Burmese, of mixed Burmese, Indian, Dutch and German descent. My family’s story roughly follows the arc of Burmese annexation, from Vandockum, a Dutch sailor stranded in the region who turned to piracy: to his grand-children, who profited directly from the proceeds of colonization: to my grandmother’s encounter with a Japanese Photographer known only as K, which seemed to mark the end of empire and their cosmopolitan world; to my own parents, who were caught out by increasingly violent nationalism after World War Two.

What I shared with the Burmese I met and spoke to was a sense of lost home, a lost nation and lost time. But as I walked the streets of Yangon, searching for evidence of my own history, I realized that no matter how much I wanted to be connected to the city of my birth, I itched to be on the move, at-home in many places. Like Canada, where I grew up. Or Australia, where I live now.

So, where do we belong? In the homes we are born into or the homes we make for ourselves?

To buy a copy of my first book, The Monsoon Bride, published by Text, click here.


5 Responses to Welcome to the site

  1. Judy Bird says:

    Unfortunately the email address failed – so:

    Hi Michelle,

    Such a pleasure to meet you this morning. Feedback from the group has been overwhelmingly positive; your approachability and honesty were appreciated and such direct insight into the publishing process eye-opening for many. ‘Monsoon Bride’ deserves its success.

    The book I spoke about is ‘Beyond the Facade – Flinders Street, more than just a railway station’ by Jenny Davies, ISBN 9781921488030 (pbk).

    Waverley Community Learning Centre writing groups will be watching your career with personal interest now. Our best wishes for your PhD and hopes that we’ll meet you again in the near future.

    Thank you so much for your time and effort.

    Warm regards,

    Judy Bird (Tutor)

  2. Paul Schellens says:

    Hello Michelle,
    Congrats on the Novel. I’ve read some great reviews. Ordered the book – my wife grabbed it and is loving it!
    I’m back into writing/producing myself and would love to get in touch. Please email me at schellensp@immation.com.au
    Cheers, Paul.
    P.S. Remember Ground Floor?

  3. Jerome says:

    Hi Michelle,
    I also wanted to email to invite you to – as Rolf Potts will say on Wednesday – take a tour of Melbourne that looks behind the local tourism-slanted veneer. Our cultural laneway tour is a look at Melbourne at ground level that shows you the laneways, hidden spaces and how you need to approach the city like a nosey parker before it starts to really show itself off. Sydney is flashy and easier to understand while Melbourne like you to do some work first! I hope you can join us while at the conference.
    We also conduct a Flinders St Station walking tour – based on Jenny’s book and until she became busy with the design competition, she conducted tour for us. Now run by in-house guides, it also peels back the layers and you will see that it really is more than just a facade.

  4. Anna Paul says:

    Hi Michelle
    I was very interest to read your book The Monsoon Bride as I visited Burma in 2011. I found the atmosphere description very good but found the ending unrealistic. How can Winsome survive on her own in that time and age of the 1930’s.

    • Hi Anna

      Thanks for reading the book. Like you, I had very clear ideas about Burma and the 1930s before I began researching The Monsoon Bride. What I discovered was that women, often very young, poorly educated and unskilled, did have to fend for themselves. Winsome’s experience is based (loosely) on fact. We often say that hindsight is 20/20,in other words, pin-sharp and clear. My experience is that, when we look at ‘history’, we leave a lot of stories out. That was what made researching and writing the book so much fun.


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