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Who Are the Real Villains in “The Majesties”?

Book Chronicles / Interview

In this article:
The Majesties

Written by Intan Paramaditha, originally published in Electric Literature

Jan 23, 2020

Tiffany Tsao on Western gatekeeping and the future of Indonesian literature. The opening of Tiffany Tsao’s The Majesties does not let you get away with murder: “When your sister murders three hundred people, you can’t help but wonder why – especially if you were one of the intended victims.” Dying in a hospital bed, Gwendolyn Sulinado recounts how her sister Estella enters the hotel kitchen in her gorgeous cheongsam to poison their whole family. One can imagine mystery and a femme fatale with a chignon, but the novel, despite being a page-turner and longlisted for the Australian Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction, transcends the boundaries of genre (“crime”/ “thriller”) or category (“Asian family drama”). First published in Australia as Under Your Wings, The Majesties is a journey to unearth past events that led to Estrella’s monstrous act, a haunted world filled with secrets, deceits, destruction, and family bonds thicker than blood, prompting us to question: Who are the real monsters? As we track the sisters’ footprints from California to Melbourne, we uncover more layers, including a tale of two sisters and gender expectations in a morbid family web as well as the complex position of the Chinese elites within Indonesia’s violent history.

Read the full article here.

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