George Orwell’s ‘Burmese Days’ in Sinhala | Sunday Observer

George Orwell’s ‘Burmese Days’ in Sinhala

The novel, Burmese Days, written by British writer George Orwell has been translated into Sinhala by famous writer, poet and translator Ananda Sellahewa.

Burmese Days was first published in the UK in 1934. It is a tale from the waning days of British colonialism, when Burma was ruled from Delhi, as part of British India.

The novel is based on Orwell’s experience in Burma. Orwell spent five years from 1922 to 1927 as a police officer in the Indian Imperial Police force in Burma, (now Myanmar). Burma had become part of the British Empire during the 19th century.

Burmese Days is set in the 1920s imperial Burma, in the fictional district of Kyauktada. The translator attempts to give a true picture of the colonial era to the Sinhala readers. Burma is a country similar to Sri Lanka with rich Buddhist civilization and with a majority Buddhist population. Orwell describes how the British colonials exploit the resources of Burma while denouncing the local people and how the selfish local people please the British colonials for personal gain.

Since the situation in contemporary Sri Lanka is similar to the situation in Burma as described by Orwell, the book gives a familiar experience to the Sinhala readers.

The translator, Ananda Sellahewa is an Engineer by profession and has been working in the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. At present he is the Project Director of the Dam Safety and Water Resource Planning Project.

Sellahewa has translated many important novels from English for the Sinhala readers who are interested in advanced international literature. The books translated by him include: Novels by Edgar Rice Boroughs, namely, The Land that Time Forgot; People that Time Forgot; and Out of Time Abyss. Also, those by Frederick Forsyth, namely, Avenger; Cobra; Afghan; The Icon; The Deceiver; Kill List; Devil’s Alternative and Veteran.