Beauty Is A Wound

Book / Novel

by Eka Kurniawan
Author: Annie Tucker

Format: Paperback, English
384 page(s)
ISBN/ISBN13: 0811223639/978-0811223638
Published Sep 08, 2015 by New Directions

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The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan’s gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his young nation’s troubled past: 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.

Beauty Is a Wound astonishes from its opening line: One afternoon on a weekend in May, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years. . . . Drawing on local sources—folk tales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope—and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Kurniawan’s distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.1

  1. New Directions 

Despite its comic and satirical overtones, ″Beauty is a wound″ should not be seen as a light-hearted read. Satire is capable of urging a society to revalue its history and give public account – something that is desperately needed in modern Indonesia.
Sherif Abdel Samad in A hidden literary gem (Qantara, Jun 13, 2016)