12 April, 2021

In Halimunda They Spin Webs

An account of love, lust, fantasy and violence.

In Halimunda They Spin Webs

From the word go it shouts Mar­quez—and, naturally, if Marquez is there, can Rushdie be far beh­ind? Beauty is a Wound evokes the well-trodden world of magical realism from the very first sentence. People jump off mountains and vanish in the sky, gho­sts haunt the village. Dead pigs transmute, perhaps karmically, into human beings. The book is an account of love, lust, fantasy and violence.

Beauty is a Wound tells the story of Dewi Ayu, who is half-Dutch and who bec­ame a prostitute during the time of the Japanese occupation. Dewi’s life and death covers various generations and peculiarities. Kur­­­niawan’s place of choice is Halimunda, a small isl­and that would have fallen off the map exc­ept for its Japanese spy population. Halimunda is Ind­­­onesian history in miniature: the Dutch occupation, the native population, the Japa­nese invasion and cla­­shes with Communists and communities. It is Kurn­ia­wan’s Macondo and, like 100 Years, is a...

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