The Fugitive

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Author, Willem Samuels, Translator
Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Author, Willem Samuels, Translator William Morrow & Company $16.95 (171p) ISBN 978-0-688-08698-5
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Indonesia under Japan's brutal occupation during WW II is the setting for this electifying novel, written in 1947 while Pramoedya was in a Dutch forced-labor camp. The hero, Raden Hardo, a young Indonesian platoon commander, leads a nationalist army revolt that is quashed when a co-conspirator leaks the plan. Disguised as an itinerant beggar, hunted by Japanese soldiers, Hardo returns to his hometown in Java. His mother is dead; his half-crazed father drowns his sorrow in compulsive gambling; his fiancee has moved away; and his father-in-law-to-be promptly reports his whereabouts to the Japanese. The plot, an explosive mix of love, betrayal, collaboration and revenge, is ironically heightened by the fact that the Japanese are only a day or two away from surrendering to the Allies. The prose is lyrical, musical, yet hard as shrapnel. Pramoedya is now under arrest in Jakarta, his works banned in Indonesia. Anti-colonialist but nondidactic, this shattering tale is a microcosm of innumerable personal tragedies of lives pulverized by war and conquest. (Mar.)
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