Eka Kurniawan’s Disorienting ‘Kitchen Curse’ Is a Punk Critique of Colonialism

All Things Books / Review

About Kitchen Curse,
Written by Noah Flora, and was originally published in The Nation,
Jan 07, 2020

The Indonesian writer’s short story collection tells tales of hope and disappointment from Reformasi, the period following the ouster of the country's dictator Suharto. Indonesia holds a prominent place in the cultural imagination of the West. The nearly 20,000-island archipelago is a prime backpacking and vacation destination for wayward millennials, especially from the United States and Europe. The island of Bali, in particular, has become a mecca for bloggers, gap year travelers, and digital nomads. As a result, Indonesia is the subject of cringe-worthy clichés about exploration and (self-) discovery—holdovers from a colonizer’s paradigm of thinking updated for the 21st century in the form of Instagram captions and hashtags. The problem of Indonesia’s tourism economy is one subject among many that Eka Kurniawan broaches in Kitchen Curse, a brief but explosive collection of recently translated short stories.

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