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Publisher's Summary

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.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By nikki on 02-13-16

Like nothing I've read (heard) before

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!

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By W Perry Hall on 01-17-16

Like One Hundred Years of Solitude & Animal Farm

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.

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12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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