Khin Chan Myae Maung left Myanmar to study abroad in 2013, but, as she admits in her introduction, writing Giving Alms was an emotional and spiritual return home for her. Inspired by the stories of her grandmother and great-grandmother, she shows Myanmar, mainly known to audiences in the context of war history, as a diverse and culturally rich country.
Giving Alms might only feature three stories and so the collection seems small, but its emotional load is great. Maug describes family tragedies in an extremely touching way, focusing especially on children who have been failed by adults. You will find a story about parents mourning their tortured son; about a boy who becomes the titular living alm for his father’s debts; and about a daughter who does not want her sick mother to return because then she will have to leave the warm house of her wealthy aunt and return to poverty.