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Column: This Earth of Mankind

Book Chronicles / Screen

In this article:
This Earth of Mankind

Written by Aamer Hussein, originally published in DAWN

Apr 30, 2023

Late last Sunday evening I was browsing Netflix for a good film to watch when, to my surprise, I found a screen adaptation of one of my favourite novels: Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Bumi Manusia [This Earth of Mankind], which I first read around 34 years ago. The first book in a tetralogy, Bumi Manusia was written during Toer’s long imprisonment on the island of Buru, on charges of communism. Set at the turn of the century and narrated by Minke, a young writer of aristocratic stock, it examines the devastating effects of Dutch colonialism on the ancient culture of Java, as well as the necessary tides of modernity that were sweeping over Asia. The powerful bildungsroman and love story of Minke with the mixed-race Annelies who longs to be a ‘true native’ frames a layered account of culture and imperialism, race and gender, rootedness and dispossession in one’s own land.

Read the full article here.

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