November Notes

From the front page of Le Monde des Livres, November 17th: “Avec «Les Belles de Halimunda», son premier roman, Eka Kurniawan tresse, entre onirisme et vraisemblance, une extraordinaire épopée indonésienne.”

While Les Belles de Halimunda (Beauty Is a Wound) just released in French, almost at the same time Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash was published in English. Jackson Arn has a review of the book in Asymptote; as Free Press Journal said about it … “Kurniawan also skilfully manages to save his pulp fiction type novel from getting into that genre.”

From Otago Daily Times, NZ, we found they compared the book with Tarantino-type violence, “… they may find this a light-hearted romp in an ‘‘exotic’’ and unusual location.” In other place, Tiffany Tsao in Mekong Review argued that, “The influence of so-called lowbrow fiction on Eka’s work has never been a secret … But to see this as a failing would be to make a grievous error.”

And don’t forget about my second novel, Man Tiger, that Manila Book Review called it as a “story of a great rage.”

Reviews, Story and Interview

Here are some recent reviews for Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash (New Directions, Pushkin Press, Text Publishing, Speaking Tiger):

“And as high-end pulp fiction, Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is superb.” – Tim Hannigan, Asian Review of Books.

“A darkly comic tale of boyhood” – Jane Yong Kim, The Atlantic.

Vengeance is wonderfully entertaining, and highly cinematic, its critique of patriarchal Indonesian society wrapped in picaresque adventure and anarchic comedy.” – Keshava Guha, The Hindu.

“Indonesian-born Eka Kurniawan is one of the most exciting writers active today. Vengeance Is Mine, All Other Pay Cash is a madcap noir featuring an impotent gangster who undertakes a violent and epic quest to regain use of his ‘little bird’. encountering bewitching martial artists, truck drivers, and vicious criminals along the way.” – The Culture Trip.

I had some interviews with Italian media when I was in Mantova last week, here one of them form Il Libraio (for those who read Italian): Eka Kurniawan, che ha portato “il realismo magico nella varietà della letteratura indonesiana”.

And here is my short story published by Vice, translated by Annie Tucker. Originally published in Indonesian as “Pengantar Tidur Panjang”. This is one from my first story collection in English translation, Kitchen Curse, forthcoming from Verso Books.

Publishers Weekly

“This is an almost unbelievably fun and weird novel.” A starred review for Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash from Publishers Weekly.

“Avec une fable mémorable, sur une lignée de femmes redoutables, Eka Kurniawan signe un chef-d’œuvre.” This is a review from Livres Hebdo for Les Belles de Halimunda, French edition of Cantik Itu Luka.

Vengeance Is Mine, Links

“… habitually drives his narra­tives between the extreme poles of the crass and the sublime, the tragic and the comedic, the surreal and the real.” – South China Morning Post, “Eka Kurniawan’s brutal novel on Indonesian masculinity is not for the faint-hearted”

“It’s funny, enraging, and touching.” – Village Voice, “NYC’s Best Independent Booksellers Share Their Picks For Summer Reading”

“I believe the phrase is ‘page-turner.’” – Words Without Borders, “The Watchlist: July 2017”

Inses Intelektual

Terkonfirmasi. Editor cerpen Kompas sendiri menyarankan inses intelektual semacam begini. Sama seperti dalam bidang biologi, hubungan sedarah kemungkinan (dikutip dari Wikipedia):

“… berpotensi tinggi menghasilkan keturunan yang secara biologis lemah, baik fisik maupun mental (cacat), atau bahkan letal (mematikan).”

倫嘉妮斯公主的傳說:《美傷》

This is an excerpt from Beauty Is a Wound in Traditional Chinese:

傳說有個名叫倫嘉妮斯的公主十分美麗,見了她的人都願意為她而死。馬曼根登一晚醒來,覺得他為了得到那樣的女人,願意和任何人一戰,於是一一搖醒他的手下,問他們倫嘉妮斯公主住在哪。他們答道,當然是在哈里蒙達啊,坐著獨木舟沿海岸往西划,就會到達。

Read more here.

Tanya Jawab #3

Giovanni aka Ipang: Mas Eka, saya ingin membuat photo essay tentang Mas Eka, tentang kehidupan sehari-hari Mas Eka. Saya bukanlah seorang fotografer profesional, cuma seorang yang punya passion di fotografi.

Dengan sangat menyesal, saya tak bisa memenuhinya. Sebagai penulis, jika berkenan sila membaca tulisan saya yang sudah terbit. Kehidupan pribadi saya, kehidupan sehari-hari saya, sangatlah tidak penting untuk kebanyakan orang. Biarlah itu menjadi milik saya sendiri, yang saya bagi cuma dengan sedikit orang.

(dari Tanya dan Jawab)

Tanya Jawab #2

Aditya Ghozali (Pertanyaannya panjang, tapi saya penggal untuk hal yang saya pikir esensial saja): Dan kata mereka [penerbit], fiksi saya bukanlah bacaan fiksi yang populer. Susah sekali menembus penerbit yang di kuasai pasar buku pop. Apakah usaha, waktu, pikiran dan tenaga yang saya kuras tidak manfaat, dan sebaiknya saya berhenti atau tetap melanjut? Bagaimana cara mas Eka dahulu berjuang dan adakah penerbit yang masih mencari naskah berbau sastra?

Pertama-tama, lupakan saja pikiran soal berbau sastra atau tidak. Penerbit yang (mengaku) hanya menerbitkan karya sastra pun bisa menolak karya yang (dipikir penulisnya) berbau sastra. Penerbit punya alasan masing-masing untuk menerbitkan sebuah naskah. Penulis bisa mengikuti kemauan mereka, bisa pula tidak. Novel pertama saya ditolak banyak penerbit, tapi saya pikir itu bukan cerita penting. Sebagian besar penulis mengalaminya. Kamu bukan satu-satunya orang yang dikacangin penerbit. Tak perlu kesal soal itu, juga tak perlu bangga. Pertanyaanmu yang paling penting adalah, “Sebaiknya saya berhenti atau tetap melanjut”? Dan yang bisa menjawab hanya kamu. Jawabanmu akan menunjukkan penulis macam apa dirimu, sekarang dan kelak.

(dari Tanya dan Jawab)

Tanya Jawab #1

Mustikowati: Buku pertama yg saya baca adalah Cantik itu Luka. I’m so impressed. Saya lanjutkan dengan Lelaki Harimau, S.D.R.H.D.T, dan O. Satu yg terasa beda adalah penggunaan kata “tidak” pada C.I.L anda ubah menjadi “enggak” pada novel-novel selanjutnya. Mengapa? (because I prever the first one?). Terima kasih.

Bagi saya sesederhana itu merupakan bagian dari perubahan luas antara era Cantik Itu Luka/Lelaki Harimau (sila perhatikan kembali novel ini) ke era Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas/O yang terentang hingga 10 tahun. Mengapa? Karena itu hanya satu persoalan dari banyak hal yang menarik hati dan pikiran saya, pembicaraannya akan luas sekali. Tapi bisa kita persempit di kata “tidak” dan “enggak” saja, sesuatu yang sebenarnya pernah saya bicarakan di jurnal ini: sementara pada dasarnya saya masih mempergunakan kata “tidak” di sana-sini, pada saat yang sama saya enggak mau membunuh “enggak”. Ini sejenis diplomasi kecil, tentang kata-kata yang seringkali harus dibunuh hanya karena kebakuan, aturan, atau bahkan sopan-santun.

(dari Tanya dan Jawab)

Adding Light to the Sum of Light

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.

Review from The Financial Times

“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.

Antitesis Cinta Monyet

resensi_o_kompas

Sila baca “Antitesis Cinta Monyet”, resensi Tenni Purwanti untuk novel O, di Kompas hari ini, 2 Juli 2016. Foto oleh: @sastragpu.

Juga resensi Cantik Itu Luka (Schoonheid is een vloek) untuk edisi Belanda: “Schoonheid is een vloek heeft een speciale gekruidheid” di harian pagi de Volkskrant.

Hadiah Lebaran juga meliputi hak terjemahan Cantik Itu Luka ke bahasa Ibrani, akan diterbitkan oleh Shocken Publishers.

“Seperti Dendam …” Will be Adapted into a Feature Film

Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas (Love and Vengeance) film rights have been acquired by Jakarta-based company Palari Films. The film will be produced by Muhammad Zaidy and Meiske Taurisia; and Eka Kurniawan has been attached as co-scripwriter together with filmmaker Edwin (director and writer of Indonesian film Postcards from the Zoo, which was in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival 2012). Read more here.

Raubkatze im Sarong

“Der indonesische Autor Eka Kurniawan greift im Roman «Tigermann» auf alten Volksglauben zurück. Er deckt nicht nur ein psychologisches Drama, sondern auch die Schichten der heimatlichen Kultur auf.” For those who read German, here is a review of Tigermann, “Raubkatze im Sarong” by Katharina Borchardt, Neue Züricher Zeitung.

Interview, Electronic Literature

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.

Burning Bright, A Profile from The Enconomist

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“If Mr Eka feels burdened by other people’s expectations, he does not show it. Small, slight and bespectacled, with a thoughtful elfin manner and a ready grin, he looks perhaps half his age, and chats freely and easily, without any apparent writerly agony.”

LOL. That’s me, a profile by Jon Fasman from The Economist, “Burning Bright”.

Seperti Dendam, English Translation

Following Beauty Is a Wound (2015) and Man Tiger (2015), my third novel Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas (originally, 2014) will be available in English-translation (tr. Annie Tucker, expected Spring 2017). The book sold to three publishing houses for three different territories: New Directions (US and Canada), Pushkin Press (UK, Comm. exl Canada and ANZ), and Text Publishing (ANZ). At the same time, Pushkin Press acquired Beauty Is a Wound for UK, while Speaking Tiger will publish it for Indian sub-continent market (which bring the total count up to 27 publishers, in 23 languages).

The Best Fiction 2015, Flavorwire

“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 Dostoyevsky, turn to Kurniawan instead.”

Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger are among Flavorwire’s The Best Fiction 2015.

Man Tiger, The Guardian & The Huffington Post

“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.”

The New Yorker

Though he considers Pramoedya an influence, and a master of the historical novel, he is quick to point out the radical differences in their approach to fiction: “I don’t think Pramoedya would write about an undead woman rising from underground,” he said. “It’s not his style.”

“A Writer’s Haunting Trip Through the Horrors of Indonesian History”, by Gillian Terzis, The New Yorker

“The Violent Mysteries of Indonesia”, by Ian Buruma, The New York Review of Book

“Indonesia: Robbed, Raped, Abused”, by Charles R. Larson, Counter Punch

Interview, Jakarta Globe

“There are many young talented writers who are well-read, such as Andina Dwifatma and Norman Erikson Pasaribu. Poets Mario F. Lawi and Aan Mansyur have also caught my attention with their poetry. And don’t forget those from my own generation: Intan Paramaditha, Ugoran Prasad, Ratih Kumala, Puthut E.A., Gunawan Maryanto, Agus Noor, and some others. I think the landscape of our literature is very varied. It’s only a matter of time until the world discovers it, I believe.”

An interview from Jakarta Globe.

Beauty Is a Wound, San Francisco Chronicle

“All of this — the comedy and the historical heft, the intricate plot and even more intricate character system — should make for an overstuffed, elephantine novel. But it doesn’t. Beauty Is a Wound, the first of Kurniawan’s novels to be translated into English (along with Man Tiger, a slim work), is a controlled sprawl, massive but not messy. It is, especially at the level of structure, an awesome achievement.”

This time from San Francisco Chronicle, a review by Anthony Domestico.

Please join me at Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, September 2015, 17th (and at Asian Art Museum, Seattle, September 2015, 15th).

Ikapi Book of the Year dan Edisi Swedia

Beberapa kabar lain sedikit terlewatkan. Ikatan Penerbit Indonesia (IKAPI) menganugerahkan “Book of the Year” kepada Lelaki Harimau (menilik yang tertulis di piala, sebenarnya untuk Man Tiger, yang memang terbit tahun ini). Terima kasih, dan permohonan maaf karena tak bisa hadir di acara penyerahan.

Dan Pontas baru saja memberi kabar, Cantik Itu Luka juga akan diterjemahkan dan diterbitkan ke dalam bahasa Swedia. Bahasa ketujuh!

Review, New Republic

Man Tiger and Beauty Is a Wound constitute a retort from the present to the dark times, while also acknowledging that the dark times may not yet be over.”

“Where The Dead Refuse to Vanish”, by Siddhartha Deb, New Republic.

“This is an impressive epic, Kurniawan’s voice and invention offering something new and different even as it is reassuringly grounded in much that is familiar. A very fine work, and a very good read.”

– M.A.Orthofer, Complete Review

33 Must-Read Books for Fall 2015

“Imagine if Gogol adapted the films of Weerasethakul into novels.”

Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger are among “33 Must-Read Books for Fall 2015” from Flavorwire.

“This first English translation of Indonesian author Eka Kurniawan’s output is intense, thrilling and violent.”

Man Tiger review by Paul Simon, “Ferocious Tale of A Javanese Anti-hero”, from Morning Star.

UPDATE: 2.9.2015
Man Tiger is also included in “2015 Fall Books Preview: 33 Can’t-Miss New Reads” from The Huffington Post; while Beauty Is a Wound is in “Politics & Prose: Staff Pick”.

The First “Beauty Is a Wound” Review from Publishers Weekly

“But Kurniawan’s characters are all destined for despair and sorrow, and the result is a darker and more challenging read than One Hundred Years of Solitude.” The first Beauty Is a Wound review ever, from Publishers Weekly. The book will be available in September, by New Directions (US & Canada) and Text Publishing (Australia & NZ).

Ulasan “Perempuan Patah Hati”, April 2015

Ini beberapa ulasan terkini mengenai kumcer Perempuan Patah Hati yang Kembali Menemukan Cinta Melalui Mimpi: “Berdamai dengan Hidup yang Getir” oleh Ariel Seraphino, “Membaca Isi Kepala Eka Kurniawan” oleh Tenni Purwanti, “Narasi-narasi Kecil Eka Kurniawan” oleh Bagus Purwoadi, “Serpihan Cerita Sederhana Eka Kurniawan” oleh Icha Afrisia, CNN Indonesia, “Perempuan Patah Hati, Penanda Puasa Panjang Eka Kurniawan” oleh Silananda.