Wendy Law-Yone Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to her novels, Wendy Law-Yone has published short fiction as well as works of memoir, journalism, and technical writing. Like her novels, most of these other pieces are set in or concern her native land, Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989). For instance, “Drought” (1993) is an erotic short story set on an island kampung (“village” in several Southeast Asian languages) about an ostracized Eurasian girl who cares for a European pilot left comatose after a plane crash and who empowers and pleasures herself with his unconscious body. “The Year of the Pigeon” (1994) is a memoir about Law-Yone’s wedding in Rangoon, Burma, to Sterling Seagrave on their second date (after two years of intense written correspondence between them) and her attempt to escape Burma’s military regime, her imprisonment, and her eventual release into exile.

Several of Law-Yone’s most vivid and insightful journalistic pieces spring from visits she has made to her native Burma from exile: For example, “Life in the Hills,” which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in December, 1989, details her frustrating visit to a jungle hideout of dissident Burmese students after the brutal suppression of the prodemocracy movement by the military junta in 1988; and “The Outsider,” which appeared in the Asia edition of Time magazine in August, 2003, tells of her unsentimental journey to the hellscape of her former family home in Rangoon (now known as Yangon) some thirty years after she had fled it.

Law-Yone’s technical writing has appeared in Architectural Digest, and she has also published the business administration text Company Information: A Model Investigation (1980).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Wendy Law-Yone’s novels have been translated into several European languages, and her works are highly respected, especially by Asian American literary scholars, for their insightful rendering of the problematic issue of immigration in the United States, their sympathetic portrayals of mental illness, their feminist construction of women characters, and their staunch prodemocracy stance on contemporary Burmese politics. Law-Yone has received a number of awards and honors for her writing, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Carnegie Endowment, a Harvard Foundation Award, and a David T. K. Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, England. She was nominated for the Irish Times International Fiction Prize in 1995.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bow, Nancy. “Interview with Wendy Law-Yone.” MELUS 27, no. 4 (2002). Interview emphasizing the Burmese background to Law-Yone’s work and her depictions of sexuality.

Forbes, Nancy. “Burmese Days.” The Nation, April 30, 1983. Provides a perceptive and balanced reading of The Coffin Tree.

Law-Yone, Wendy. “Life in the Hills.” The Atlantic Monthly, December, 1989, 24-36.

Ling, Amy. “Wendy Law-Yone.” In The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States, edited by Cathy N. Davidson and Linda Wagner-Martin. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. A review essay.

Milton, Edith. “Newcomers to New York.” The New York Times Book Review, May 15, 1983. Milton is especially impressed by Law-Yone’s depiction of madness in The Coffin Tree.

Tharoor, Shashi. “The Most Dangerous Dance.” Review of Irrawaddy Tango, by Wendy Law-Yone. The Washington Post Book World, January, 1994. A noteworthy review.

Tsukiyama, Gail. “Long Journey of a Tango Queen.” Review of Irrawaddy Tango, by Wendy Law-Yone. The San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 1994. A thorough review.