[Book Review] Beauty Is a Wound, A Howling Masterpiece by Eka Kurniawan

[Book Review] Beauty Is a Wound, A Howling Masterpiece by Eka Kurniawan

Dewi Ayu, who was once the most respected prostitute in the fictional coastal town of Halimunda, rises from her grave after being dead for two decades. She’s returned to pay a visit to her fourth daughter, Beauty, who is famously ugly. She never expect that ugly is her daughter. What follows is an unforgettable, all-encompassing epic of Indonesian history. The plots are unpredictable, which will make you never dare to skip even one word.

Yep! I just finished Beauty Is a Wound, a novel written by Eka Kurniawan. The Indonesian title is ‘Cantik Itu Luka’ and I do not have a chance to read this verse yet, since my husband gave me the English verse.

After I read Beauty Is a Wound, I could say Eka Kurniawan is elegant writer of fiction in Indonesia today. Without a doubt, he write a complex, challenging, and very original novel. It combines history, family tragedy, romance, satire, humor in a sweping polyphony. Thing I like the most is the way Eka put history into the story: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders of perhaps a million “Communists,” followed by three decades of Suharto’s despotic rule.

“The combination of magic, lore, and pivotal events reverberating through generations will prompt readers to draw parallels between Kurniawan’s Halimunda and García Márquez’s Macondo. 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. An astounding, momentous book.”
– Publishers Weekly

If you seeking for a worth Indonesian novel to read, let Beauty Is a Wound or it’s original title ‘Cantik Itu Luka’ hypnotize your mind and bring back our history before the independence day.

Note: Cover photo credit to Eka Kurniawan official page

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