“Beauty Is a Wound serves as a crash course in contemporary Indonesian history since most of us know little about the country beyond Bali. And it is an oral history lesson well told; with all the folk ribaldry and dry humour that one associates with the rootedness of the vernacular. Indonesia offers a number of things familiar to Indians.” A review by Satyabrat Sinha, The Wire.
“Annie Tucker’s skilful translation captures Kurniawan’s matter-of-fact prose and black humour. Elements of the supernatural and oral storytelling combine powerfully to evoke a brutal past and some of the pivotal events that helped shape Indonesia today.” Review of Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger by Lucy Popescu, The Financial Times.
Labodalih Sembiring and I responded to some questions about Man Tiger, English translation of Lelaki Harimau, here.
“If Man Tiger is a path snaking into the wilderness, Beauty is a Wound is a repeated diving and resurfacing.” A new review by Tiffany Tsao, “In Suspicion of Beauty: On Eka Kurniawan”, published by Sydney Review of Books. It’s including a critical reading on translations.
“However, classifying Kurniawan as a ‘magical realist’ is fundamentally misleading.” A review of Man Tiger, by Eric Wilson, Inside Indonesia. “What most impressed me with Man Tiger, […], was the novel’s numerous points of contact with crime fiction, albeit in an under-developed manner.”
And here is a report from Jakarta Post about my new novel: ‘O’ A multilayered fable.
The society tends to simplify it as “magical realism,” just because of how it shows up, both fantastically and realistically. We rarely identify Kafka as a magical realist writer, despite the fact there are many fantastic elements in his works. And why are the comic characters from DC and Marvel not called magical realism, even though they have plenty of fantastic elements? The magic aspects in my novel are influenced by horror and silat (Indonesian martial art) novels of the 1970s. Beauty Is a Wound is quite tricky, as it’s difficult to put it in one genre. Classifying it as “magic realism” would be easier for people to figure it out.
Read my conversation with Electronic Literature.
A round-up of the critical response to Man Tiger, from Verso Books.
“It may be cheating to include two novels by one author, but there is no doubt that the year’s most important revelation-in-translation is Eka Kurniawan, whose searing works of so-called magical realism set in Indonesia should not be missed by any reader, especially those who are unafraid of sex and violence. If you’re tired of rereading Gogol and Dostoevsky, turn to Kurniawan instead.”
Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger are among Flavorwire’s The Best Fiction 2015.
“Refreshingly, Kurniawan puts value on literature as entertainment, and his books are certainly that.” A [Man Tiger] review by Deborah Smith, The Guardian.
“Kurniawan’s prose holds an often-leashed power much like the tiger inside Margio; he can stun with a single sentence, like the crackling opening line of the novel or its heart-thudding concluding one.” Another [Man Tiger] review by Claire Fallon, The Huffington Post.
And from Chicago Tribune, John Domini reviewing [Beauty Is a Wound]: “A gifted writer can always freshen up a cliché, and Eka Kurniawan has the gift.”