Toer ( The Fugitive ), an Indonesian novelist and political dissident, began this novel as a series of stories told to fellow political prisoners held on Buru Island. The tale is narrated mostly by a brilliant young student, Minke, a native among Dutch colonialists and mixed-bloods in turn-of-the-century Java. He becomes involved, romantically and otherwise, with a wealthy family headed by a tough, self-educated concubine. Minke's love for her beautiful daughter draws him into conflict with colonial legal authorities, his own highly placed father and the girl's sinister brother. The richly textured depictions of the East Indies mercantile life and social ills as well as family tensions suggest Conrad and Dickens, but the novel's striking echoes of an oral culture and folklore are Toer's own. The result is simultaneously a compelling romantic tragedy and a moving dramatization of the pressures of race and class that inform the colonial situation. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991 Release date: 10/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
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