THE END OF PERIL, THE END OF ENMITY, THE END OF STRIFE, A HAVEN, BY THIRII MYO KYAW MYINT
In The End of Peril, the End of Enmity, the End of Strife, a Haven, Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint explores the beauty and the pain of constructed realities—the stories we tell and the worlds we build for ourselves. This debut book curves in on itself, doubling back and retracing its steps to create an ever-more intimate portrait of a woman between two cities: the domed city of her youth, which was built by her grandfather, and the titular harbor city, which once acted as haven for an ancient king under attack. Though long past, the history of this harbor city is very much alive in the narrator, as she is a descendant of both the city’s king and those who attacked him. “The city fell and the two peoples are one people now,” she tells us. “In my body, I am one person.” This comingling of attacker and attacked sets the stage for what might be called a book of blurring. Pressing reality mingles with myth and the spectral dead exist among the living. So, too, are lines blurred between human and animal, corporeal and natural: blooming trees swell and curl tendrils round a dying father; a sleepless princess carves the moon with her sharpened hair.
Perhaps the most significant blurring is the one between the narrator and her mother: “My mother,” she says, “. . . did not want to be reminded of the permeability of the body, of my body, which had invaded and opened hers.” There is also the narrator’s concern for her own baby, a child she winds close like a spool of thread and worries over. “I want it [the child],” she says, “to better understand what it is like to be a woman, for the baby may one day become a woman . . . The choice of gender the baby will one day make is heavy.” Musings like this one call us to reexamine motherhood—what does it mean? What does it require? And where—if ever—does it end?