Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan

A deeply flawed world with a family curse to destroy them all

Love above all is sacred and complex. In Beauty is a Wound we discover the miraculous hunt for love throughout generations, only to realise how fleeting the moment is, how curious the human being can become when the need for revenge becomes all-encompassing.

The writing is convoluted like the plot, with long stretches of historical Indonesian sequences, only to swiftly get back to the “action” of love vs revenge, completing the circle until the end of the novel.

The characters are sublimely portrayed, each with their own quirks and particularities, uniting them against all odds. I enjoyed the highlight of love between the four widows in thr end, mentioned three times for its importance. Meanwhile and up til that point the vengeful husbands each fighted for their love, family or personal image.

This is definitely a novel transcending simplicity, covering topics like rape, family curses, life and hardships during war, politics and human nature. It calls for discussion on multiple levels and I am looking forward to the “babblingbookclub” questions and debates.

I consider this is a must read for those who like complex worlds interspersed with satire and bits of fantasy, where nothing looks like it seems from the outside.

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Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan

Deliciously vicious, portraying a crazy reality in a coastal village in Indonesia, where the supernatural somehow is part of everyday life and where the the story of a dysfunctional family unfolds. What impressed me the most was the flow of the writing, the normality of the supernatural, the strength of the characters against all odds.