The Wandering by Intan Paramaditha review – existential journeys

All Things Books / Review

About The Wandering,
Written by Lauren Elkin, and was originally published in Guardian, The,
Mar 06, 2020

The Wandering is the Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha’s first novel (her first story collection to appear in English, Apple & Knife, came out in 2018). And what a debut it is: an ingenious choose-your-own-adventure challenge, it is at least five books in one, a series of forking paths as imagined by Leibniz, Borges or Deleuze.

It opens with a Faustian bargain. After steamily copulating with Mephistopheles, the narrator receives a magic pair of sparkly red high heels that will take her anywhere she likes, with a note: “Their owner was a witch, but she is long dead.” She wakes to find herself in New York City, about to board a plane to Berlin or Amsterdam or Zagreb. But which? That is up to you, reader. You will be addressed in the second person, in keeping with the conventions of the choose-your-adventure form, blending you with the narrator, and conferring upon you a god-like omnipotence. (To an extent, that is: Paramaditha hasn’t written a path for you to chuck it all in and play pinochle in a retirement community in the south of France.)

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