Ma Thida is a Burmese surgeon and writer. In addition to working at a nonprofit hospital and clinic, she is the editor and publisher of a youth magazine in Yangon and writes commentary for a monthly Burmese literary magazine. Recognized mostly for her short stories, she also writes nonfiction articles. Her first novel, “The Sunflower,” is in Burmese. Her works have been translated into Catalan, English, Japanese, and Macedonian.
At Radcliffe, Thida will work on a new book about her firsthand experience with Vipassana meditation during the five years and six months she spent in a Burmese prison for her political activities. In terrible health and close to death, she meditated for up to twenty hours each day. After a couple of months, the meditation helped her overcome her illness. She will also work on editing her novel, which she finished at Brown University last year.
Thida has received a PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, a Reebok Human Rights Award, and an honorary award from the American Association of Arts and Sciences while she was in prison. Since her first trip abroad, in 2005, she has traveled to nearly twenty-five countries for conferences and programs in both medicine and literature. She was at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 2005 and at the International Writers Project at Brown University in 2008–2009.