Everything Is Broken

Life Inside Burma

Emma Larkin

Published: 7 July 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 288 pages
ISBN: 9781847081896


On 2 May 2008, an enormous tropical cyclone made landfall in Burma. The cyclone wreaked untold havoc, but the regime, in an unfathomable decision of near-genocidal proportions, blocked international aid from entering the country, and provided little relief themselves. Emma Larkin, who has been travelling to and secretly reporting on Burma for years, managed to arrange for a tourist visa in those frenzied days and arrived to chaos. Hundreds of thousands of Burmese citizens lacked food, drinking water and basic shelter. In Everything is Broken, Larkin not only exposes the extent of the damage, but provides a singular portrait of the generals responsible for compounding the tragedy, examining in revealing detail the historical, religious and superstitious setting that created Burma's tenacious and brutal dictatorship.

About the author

Image of Emma Larkin

Emma Larkin is the pseudonym of an American writer who was born, raised and still lives in Asia. She studied the Burmese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and has been visiting Burma for more than fifteen years. She is the author of two books: Finding George Orwell in Burma and Everything is Broken. More about the author


‘"Emma Larkin" is a nom de plume, and there is good reason why. This bleak chronicle of the cyclone's aftermath has little to good to say about the Burmese junta and their handling of what is said to be the worst natural disaster in the country's recorded history ... The reader feels despair, pity and rage at the victims plight, at the scenes of horror in the disaster zones, and at the darkly comic cruelty of the regime's clumsy efforts to maintain control of the situation’ Alan Wong



‘A terrific, sturdy piece of journalism that provides you with a sobering view of a tragic country under the yolk of a vicious, clueless military regime’

‘Chilling ... Larkin has given us a haunting sense of the Burmese tragedy, with its ghostly picture of the drowned delta and the local dabaung, or prophecy, that the generals' new capital will one day be a pile of bones’

‘Emma Larkin has been doggedly recording the realities of life in Burma for years, in defiance of the military regime's repression. This is her account of what happened when tropical cyclone Nargis hit the beleaguered country in 2008. Her interviews with survivors are backed up by an account of Burma's recent history, which tries to fathom why the county's generals would let its people suffer’

‘Emma Larkin's book of reportage focuses on the aftermath of the huge tropical storm Nargis, that killed 100,000 people and left many more homeless ... she retells the harrowing tales of people who survived the storm, struggling to put their lives back together’ Grant Evans

‘For those who want to know what it's like to be a Burmese inside today's Burma, Emma Larkin's Everything is Broken provides the fullest picture currently available’

‘Larkin, an undercover journalist, ably and vividly reports on the vicious absurdity of life under the junta and its tragicomic response to natural disaster’ Colin Waters

‘Larkin's writing is graceful, and the final third of the book describing her work with the survivors is all the more powerful for her unobtrusive style’

‘Orwell, in his Burmese Days, didn't write more vividly than this’

‘Shocking first-hand account of life under Burmese military dictatorship, focusing on the aftermath of the devastating cyclone in 2008 ... a reportage classic’

‘The book's title is taken from a Bob Dylan song on his album No Mercy, and the ensuing narrative, underlying which is a helpful cultural and political history of the country, reveals just that: the cold, dark heart at the centre of the regime. Everything is Broken captures an atmosphere of smoke and mirrors that distorts reality itself and where truth is pushed underground and lauded in secret’ Jon Fordham

‘This exposé of the Burmese regimes's response to the devastating 2008 cyclone is a graphic yet moving account’

‘Written with clarity and insight, it's a harrowing account of the gap between a people and its rulers, and how that gap can lead to the tragic loss of lives’

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