Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash


English Translation of “Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas”
Translated by Annie Tucker

Published by:
New Directions Books, 2017 (US);
Text Publishing, 2017 (ANZ);
Pushkin Press, 2017 (UK);
Speaking Tiger, 2017 (India)


Told in short, cinematic bursts, Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is gloriously pulpy. Ajo Kawir, a lower-class Javanese teenage boy excited about sex, likes to spy on fellow villagers in flagrante, but one night he ends up witnessing the savage rape of a beautiful crazy woman by two policemen. Deeply traumatized, he becomes impotent. His efforts to get his virility back all fail, and Ajo Kawir turns to fighting as a way to vent his frustrations. He gets such a fearsome reputation as a brawler that he is hired to kill a thug named The Tiger, but instead Ajo Kawir falls in love with Iteung, a gorgeous female bodyguard who works for the local mafia. Alas, the course of true love never did run smooth… Fast-forward a decade. Now a truck driver, Ajo Kawir has reached a new equanimity, thinking that his penis may be trying to teach him a lesson and even consulting it in many situations as if it were his guru—love may yet triumph.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash shows Eka Kurniawan in a gritty, comic, pungent mode that fans of Quentin Tarantino will appreciate. But even with its liberal peppering of fights, high-speed car chases, and ladies heaving with desire, the novel continues to explore Kurniawan’s familiar themes of female agency in a violent male world dominated by petty criminals and a corrupt police state.

Other Editions

Text Publishing (ANZ) edition, July 2017.

Speaking Tiger (India) edition, July 2017.

Other Works in English Translation

  • Man Tiger, translated by Labodalih Sembiring, Verso Books (2015); Speaking Tiger (2016).
  • Beauty Is a Wound, translated by Annie Tucker, New Directions (2015); Text Publishing (2015); Pushkin Press (2016); Speaking Tiger (2016).