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"The Long Path to Wisdom" - Burmese Stories and Legends

Lorie Karnath approached German novelist Jan-Philipp Sendker about her idea of recording some of the stories she had collected over the past two decades from her travels to Myanmar. Sendker had also spent time in this mystical country and had written two novels based there. Liking the idea, the pair then set about writing the The Long Path to Wisdom, Sendker’s son Jonathan who had recently spent some time to Burma also contributed a number of the tales to the publication.

The result is a book of Burmese stories and legends some of which may have never been recorded in English. The stories—which to some may seem similar in spirit to Western styled fairy tales—are different in that they served a different role, in many cases representing pieces of the oral history of different tribal groups that make up the country. The stories are intertwined with references to the natural as well as the supernatural world.

Author, explorer, eco-entrepreneur, and photojournalist Lorie Karnath has traveled much of the world. Lorie is President Emerita of The Explorers Club, the second woman to ever become President in the Club's 115-year history. She is the president of The Explorers Museum and Global Explorers Alliance as well as the Explorer-at-Large for Jason Learning. Her journeys, often in search of answers to elusive questions, have taken her to many of the planet’s most remote locations.

Burma has in particular represented a special place for Lorie. No matter where her travels have led her, she has always returned to this compelling location. She has had the opportunity to traverse the country, chronicling its peoples, culture, arts, and architecture. A scintillating jewel, Burma is a country where in many aspects time has stood still.

Inevitably as the country continues to open its borders, modifications have crept in and Lorie has witnessed the gradual introduction of paved roadways, a subsequent influx of vehicles, as well as new buildings and the neglect and decay of old structures and its tribal traditions.

Karnath has led numerous expeditions to Burma, including the navigation of the Chindwin River, visiting along the way many of villages accessible only by water or foot. She has witnessed and recorded many of tribal rituals—some of these believed never to have been seen by any outside of the immediate tribal community.

She is the author of many books including, The Long Path to Wisdom: Tales from Burma (Jan-Philipp Sendker, Lorie Karnath, Jonathan Sendker) Architecture in Burma, Sam Shaw, Verwegene Frauen, Eine kurze Geschichte des Vermessens, The Return of the Storks, and Wohin geht die Sonne, wenn ich schlafe (w Gustav Born). Lorie's articles and prize-winning photos have appeared in numerous museums, cultural centers and publications around the world.

Writer Jan-Philipp Sendker, author of the international bestseller The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and the highly praised sequel A Well-Tempered Heart. In The Long Path to Wisdom: Tales from Burma, Sendker and his colleagues Lorie Karnath and Jonathan Sendker bring to life a collection of ancient folk tales from Burma, granting a glimpse into the soul of its people.

Sendker and his colleagues collected the four-dozen stories in The Long Path to Wisdom over visits to Burma spanning the last twenty years. Here, Sendker employs his knack for storytelling to imbue these narratives with life. Able to be enjoyed by adults and children alike, The Long Path to Wisdom incorporates tragic tales of lost children and lost love, of failed revenge and eternal suffering, but also of faith rewarded, justice, love, and happy ever after. Sometimes the lessons they convey are clear—others subtle, some even crafted with simple humor.

While many of the stories will be unfamiliar, readers of folk stories such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, and even the wildly popular children’s story Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, will be delighted at what they recognize in Burmese stories, not just in the plots, but in the underlying wisdom they strive to impart.

Jonathan Sendker spent a gap year in Myanmar, traveling, doing volunteer work and collecting stories for this book. Upon his return home, he assisted in compiling and formulating the manuscript. Jonathan now studies Liberal Arts & Sciences in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Date: Tuesday, October 23

Time: 6:00 pm

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

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