The English-language debut of Indonesia's rising star. The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony.
The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan's gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his young nation's troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders of perhaps a million "Communists", followed by three decades of Suharto's despotic rule.
Beauty Is a Wound astonishes from its opening line: "One afternoon on a weekend in May, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for 21 years...." Drawing on local sources - folktales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope - and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Kurniawan's distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.
©2001 Eka Kurniawan (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
While this is most certainly a graphic book and explores in at some times crude terms the facets of love and desire, there is so much going on that I will need to listen to it a second time to pick up everything the author is saying. One of my new favorites!
Very interesting storyline which wandered greatly throughout the story, but did finally bring itself to a culmination of all the stories. I really enjoyed this book and the tales it told. Very well worth a read
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
If you enjoy allegorical tales; yearn to learn and think as you read without being overly challenged; delight in discovering (or trying to) the metaphorical meaning of actions, characters and things within a story; and/or relished "Animal Farm" and/or "One Hundred Years of Solitude,"
You should definitely read this novel which reflects and criticizes the turbulent history of the world's 4th most populous country Indonesia, a country of more than 14,000 islands and of terrible tsunamis. Indonesia's native citizens suffered under three and a half centuries of Dutch rule, Japanese occupation for 3 years during WWII, the mass slaughter of possibly a million citizens after the failed Communist coup in 1965, followed by the despotic rule of Suharto for 3 decades.
Kurniawan tells this tempestuous history by the epic story, by turns ridiculous, magical and hilarious but always captivating, of Dewi Ayu, the 3/4 Dutch and 1/4 Malaysian girl forced into prostitution in her late teens upon Japanese occupation, her four daughters (each with different fathers), their lovers and husbands, Dewi Ayu's 3 grandchildren, and the village of Halimundo, which is very reminiscent of the village of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Kurniawan also weaves in colorful, intriguing local folklore to make his points.
While the novel contains some scenes of the grotesque and of rapes, they did not seem gratuitous and I can't say they weren't needed to reflect the tragedies that have befallen Indonesia and its residents.
I'll go out on a limb to say this fascinating, sordid and intellectually stimulating novel is destined to be deemed a classic written by the young Indonesian author Eka Kurniawan, for whom the comparisons to Gabriel Garcia Marquez are well-deserved.
I enjoyed this audio book, though not sure I would have finished if it were not for the narrators entertaining depiction of characters and story.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
Without spoiling the plot much I can say I found the main character completely unappealing. She's a hard luck tale who likes who she is, but it's just too nasty to repeat how she got there. It may redeem itself in the ending of the book, but I'm too grossed out to get there. It's not the sex in the novel, which is minimal. The characters are almost sociopathic, without the glitter. I'm returning this book.
The story line is bizarre and I kept waiting for an interesting twist and it never happened.
There was nothing entertaining, funny or even interesting to the story. Bizarre is the best word.
performance could not overcome the story
A teen age boy.
For Whom the Bell Tolled.
Sensational, catering to the lowest common denominator.
Have a real writer who is used to write things of substance to intelligent readers? The story could have been great, as it set during the turmoil post colonial time of Indonesia. However, all the author did was trying to use wild incest/sex to fill the book, and use so called "exotic tales" to attract western readers. By doing so, he practically wasted the important historical topic, and made the book into pure trash.
The author is suitable to tell "stories" to uneducated or even illiterate audience, to get cheap sensations and laughter.
Very good narrator.
Disappointment is an understatement. From the author, sadly, is a product of colonization and suppression. Instead of tell the story with insights and critical thinking, he forcefully filled it with sex and incest to get attention...
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