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Translated by Annie Tucker
Told in short, cinematic bursts, Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is gloriously pulpy. Ajo Kawir, a lower-class Javanese teenage boy excited about sex, likes to spy on fellow villagers in flagrante, but one night he ends up witnessing the savage rape of a beautiful crazy woman. Deeply traumatised, he becomes impotent, turns to fighting as a way to vent his frustrations.Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash shows Eka Kurniawan in a gritty, comic, pungent mode that fans of Quentin Tarantino will appreciate. But even with its liberal peppering of fights, high-speed car chases, and ladies heaving with desire, the novel continues to explore Kurniawan’s familiar themes of female agency in a violent and corrupt male world.
‘An unforgettable, all-encompassing epic of Indonesian history, magic, and murder—every detail seems essential to depicting Indonesia’s tragic past. Upon finishing the book, the reader will have the sense of encountering not just the history of Indonesia but its soul and spirit. This is an astounding, momentous book.’
‘In terms of the literary novel, the year’s most stirring revelation is Eka Kurniawan.’
‘An arresting portrait of Indonesia’s struggle for nationhood, delights in obscenity: no topic is spared from its bloodthirsty brand of satire.’
‘Beauty Is a Wound is an epic of a kind that could only come from the pen of an Indonesian…Kurniawan’s creative ambition and scope are traditional in some senses, but his deeply strange work is profoundly original.’
‘So sorrowful, so savage, so freaking weird…Densely textured, complex in time scheme and epic in scope…The author’s intelligence breathes through the lines of the page, and he is equally capable of delicacy as decadence.’