Fall Baby

Book / Novel


by Laksmi Pamuntjak

Format: Paperback, English
page(s)
ISBN/ISBN13: /
Published Sep 01, 2019 by Penguin Random House

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It is a novel about the intricacies of art, religion, politics and history in a troubled Indonesia, but also about family, identity, motherhood, and the sisterhood of women.

Fall Baby (Penguin Random House: September 2019) tells the story of two women—Srikandi (Siri) and Dara, one a globetrotting visual artist, the other a political activist. Siri is the illegitimate daughter of Amba and Bhisma, the protagonists of Laksmi Pamuntjak’s award-winning first novel, Amba/The Question of Red.  Dara is Siri’s best friend-turned foe. After almost a lifetime of soul-searching in different cities of the world, Siri—brave, brilliant, broken—seeks to escape the difficult realities of her family history by making a new life in Berlin. Just as she is starting to find her footing in her new home, both in art and in life, unexpected family circumstances and a changing political landscape compel her to return to Jakarta—and to confront not only the wounds of her past, but also the complex realities of faith, art and politics in Indonesia: from the daily frustrations of navigating between two cultures and her multiple selves to dealing with religious fanatics who deem her art blasphemous.

Even though Siri finds Jakarta immensely trying, she is surprised by the fact that she keeps prolonging her stay. She finds salvation not just through her renewed friendship with Dara, but also with the renewed mother-daughter bond she experiences with her stepdaughter Amalia. It is this relationship with her stepdaughter that brings Siri, much to her own amazement and wonder, closer to her mother Amba and their common history, and in so doing finds some semblance of closure and forgiveness.

Fall Baby is a story of seeing and unseeing, of freedom and censorship. Of East and West, of memory and identity. Of mothers and daughters, of fathers and daughters. Of making peace with one’s parents’ and one’s own history. And ultimately, of the most unexpected yet precious gift of all: the sisterhood of women.



Interview Olivia Ho in Baby all grown up (The Straits Times, Dec 31, 2019)


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