A colour-drenched epic, filled with vivid sex and violence, from Indonesia's most exciting young author
The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humour, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan's gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his young nation's troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders of perhaps a million Communists, followed by three decades of Suharto's despotic rule.
Beauty Is a Wound astonishes from its opening line: 'One afternoon on a weekend in May, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years...' Drawing on local sources folk tales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Kurniawan's distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.
Eka Kurniawan was born in Tasikmalaya, Indonesia in 1975. He studied philosophy at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta and has since published several novels and short stories. The rights to Beauty is a Wound have now been sold in 27 territories. Love and Vengeance will be published by Pushkin Press in 2017.