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The English-language debut of Indonesia's rising star. The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony.
The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, ******, 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 21 years...." Drawing on local sources - folktales 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.