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Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s Portrait of Gay Indonesia

Book Chronicles / Review

In, Happy Stories, Mostly, a collection of short stories, the complexities of queer life in the Southeast Asian country come into focus.

Happy endings (or beginnings) don’t make for good fiction, as the Indonesian writer Norman Erikson Pasaribu knows well. But Pasaribu doesn’t want to give readers sob stories either, especially about their chosen subject: queer life in Indonesia. Instead, their debut collection, Happy Stories, Mostly, is written in a playful, tragicomic tone. The 12 stories in the book document the difficulty of queer lives, especially of gay men, in modern Indonesia. The plots may be propelled by tragedy, but no one—gay or straight—is reduced to or defined by trauma. Pasaribu treats their characters like friends, to be listened to and laughed at in equal measure. Even when the stories are sad, as they often are, Pasaribu refuses to give readers a front-row seat to gay suffering.

Read the full article here.

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