Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Author, Willem Samuels, Translator , trans. from the Indonesian by Willem Samuels. Hyperion East $23.95 (255p) ISBN 978-1-4013-6663-6

In these early stories, many appearing in English for the first time, one of Indonesia's leading writers illuminates with a quiet ferocity some of the most turbulent years in his nation's history. Often told through a child's observant eyes, the eight stories—which draw on the author's own upbringing in East Java during Dutch colonial rule, Japanese invasion and bloody periods of independence and civil war—are written in a warm, lyrical style that gives way to sudden pools of sadness. In the title story, the narrator evokes a dreamlike childhood along the banks of the Lusi River, but also tells matter-of-factly of a beloved servant who contracts syphilis and is abruptly dismissed for stealing. "Revenge" tells of the "bullet fever" of the independence years, as undertrained, undersupplied young nationalists are set loose on enemies near and far. "Independence Day" is also a cautionary war tale, featuring a young man maimed and blinded in combat and pitied by his family. In "Acceptance," a novella-length work, sisters and brothers take up arms for opposing political movements while their once-prosperous home disintegrates. Pramoedya, as he is called, is best known for his Buru Quartet, a cycle of novels set in the dying days of Dutch rule, and recent books such as The Girl from the Coast . These stories, though smaller in scope, show the nascent political consciousness that flowered in later novels and led to the author's long-time imprisonment under the Suharto regime. Samuels ably translates Pramoedya's informal storytelling, and his introductory note gives a useful overview of the author's long career. (Feb. 2)

Reviewed on: 01/26/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 255 pages - 978-0-14-303446-9
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