The story begins in the 1930s, before Indonesia's independence from Dutch rule, and follows the fortunes of a poor Javanese village woman who becomes a servant in the household of President Sukarno. In a world where speaking truth to power really has no point, she learns the arts of accommodation and does very well for herself. The price she pays is the loss of her identity, her connection to her kin and origins, and her moral standing. Framed by the world of ritual shadow plays - the realm of witches like Durga and the goddess Umayi - Mangunwijaya’s novel gives an unblinking but remarkably compassionate account of people caught up in the great nationalist maelstrom of Indonesia’s recent history.
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"The exuberance and the deep feelings of this well-translated tour de force should help push this book into the hands of readers from many backgrounds. Father Mangunwijaya's novel escapes many strictures."—Journal of Asian Studies
"The exuberance and deep feelings of this well-translated tour de force should help push this book into the hands of readers from many backgrounds."—The Journal of Asian Studies
"Ward Keeler's brilliant translation of this 1991 Indonesian classic could not be a more impressively persuasive interpretation.."—Multicultural Review
Other Titles in Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies