YANGON – Democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi revealed her love of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books as she waxed lyrical about her favorite reads at Myanmar’s first international literary festival on Saturday.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who spent years under house arrest under Myanmar’s former military government, joked that her “courage” in the face of state repression paled in comparison to the heroes of the best-selling fantasy series.
“I have to admit to you I read all the ‘Harry Potter’ books,” she said to chuckles from an audience at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival in Yangon.
“I really don’t know how I could ever have been brave enough to do all the things those children did . . . so when people talk about my courage, I think to myself, ‘They don’t know anything about “Harry Potter.” ‘ “
The Myanmar opposition leader said George Eliot and Victor Hugo are among her favorite authors, also revealing that she devours detective novels, which help her work out “who is going to profit from a particular crime . . . and what people are up to” — two “very good messages for politicians.”
Organizers said they wanted the festival to exploit Myanmar’s new freedoms to encourage bolder writing and debate.
Authors hailed the three-day event as a breakthrough for creativity after years lost to stifling censorship rules under the generals who ruled the country for decades but were replaced by a nominally-civilian government in 2011.