Author Q&A: Intan Paramaditha explores displacement, feminism and the road not taken in her choose-your-own adventure debut novel

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About Intan Paramaditha,
Written by Tan Gim Ean, and was originally published in Options,
May 12, 2020

In The Wandering, a young woman bored with teaching English in Jakarta, a city “full of thwarted suicidal urges”, makes a pact with her Demon Lover. He gives her a pair of red shoes that will take her wherever she wants to go — but the present comes with a curse.

Intan Paramaditha’s debut novel was translated by Stephen J Epstein from the Indonesian edition titled Gentayangan: Pilih Sendiri Petualangan Sepatu Merahmu (2017) after it won two grants from international writers’ association PEN. It centres on borderlands and global nomadism, desire, mobility and displacement, the politics and privileges of travel, and how freedom and limitations tip the choices we make.

Its protagonist remembers her mother’s warning — “bad girls go wandering” — but like the disobedient woman who gives in to an addiction, she grabs her options on a wing and a prayer as her red shoes click-clack across land and sea, from Indonesia to the US and Mexico, through dirt-filled streets, hotels, graveyards, nightspots, markets and mosques. En route, fellow travellers share gory, sorry stories.

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