Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

July 4, 2017

From the prize-winning author of Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger—another masterpiece of storytelling.

Ajo Kawir and Gecko are lower-class Javanese boys in their early adolescence. Half-hearted students at the mosque down the road and curious about girls and sex, they spend most of their time riding their bikes and spying on fellow villagers in flagrante. Sent by his mother on a mission to bring food to Scarlet Blush, an old friend who has gone mad after the murder of her husband by some vigilante soldiers, Gecko discovers that the crazy woman is actually quite beautiful. He invites Ajo Kawir to spy on her with him one evening, and the boys end up witnessing her rape by two policemen. Deeply traumatized, Ajo Kawir is rendered impotent.

Despite his handicap, Ajo Kawir becomes one of the toughest fighters in the Javanese underworld, his fearlessness matched only by his unquenchable thirst for brawling. When he finally meets his match in the shape of the fearsomely beautiful bodyguard Iteung, Ajo is left bruised, battered and overjoyed—he has fallen in love. But will he ever be able to make Iteung happy if he can’t make love like a man?

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is a gloriously pulpy tale of bloody fists, broken hearts and duelling Jakarta truckers, from one of the most exciting and original voices in literary fiction today.

Man Tiger

June 1, 2016

Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction 2016. A new bestseller from the prize-winning author of Beauty Is a Wound.
A wry, affecting tale set in a small town on the Indonesian coast, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families and of Margio, a young man ordinary in all particulars except that he conceals within himself a supernatural female white tiger. The inequities and betrayals of family life coalesce around and torment this magical being. An explosive act of violence follows, and its mysterious cause is unravelled as events progress toward a heart-breaking revelation.
Lyrical and bawdy, experimental and political, this extraordinary novel announces the arrival of a powerful new voice on the global literary stage.

Beauty Is a Wound

February 1, 2016

Described as ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude kicked into another gear’, Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humour and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The novel begins with the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, then a Dutch colony, during World War II. Dewi Ayu, a beautiful half-Dutch, half-Indonesian girl, is captured by Japanese soldiers along with twenty others and brutalized. After the US Army frees Indonesia—and Dewi—from the Japanese, Dewi finds her family untraceable and their mansion occupied by American soldiers. Struggling to survive, she turns to prostitution and soon becomes the most sought after prostitute in the land.
Dewi Ayu gives birth to three daughters, each as stunning as herself. Over the course of their lives, Dewi and her daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. However it is Dewi’s fourth daughter—named Beauty in a cruelly inverted joke—who draws them all together and brings this epic tale to its final conclusion.
Drawing on local sources—folk tales and all-night shadow-puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope—Kurniawan’s gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his nation’s troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; and the mass murders of perhaps a million ‘Communists’ in 1965, followed by three decades of Suharto’s despotic rule. Kurniawan’s distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.

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