Y. B. Mangunwijaya and Ward Keeler
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This scathingly satirical and hilarious novel, first published in Indonesia in 1991, affords both a blithely irreverent overview of Indonesian history in the Sukarno and Suharto eras and brilliant insights into the postcolonial condition.
- Published: 2004
- Subject Listing: Fiction, Asian Studies, Indonesia
- Bibliographic information: 224 pp., 5.5 x 8.5 in.
- Territorial rights: N / A In Australia and New Zealand
- Published with: Singapore University Press
The story begins in the 1930s, before Indonesia's independence from Dutch rule, and follows the fortunes of a poor Javanese village woman who becomes a servant in the household of President Sukarno. In a world where speaking truth to power really has no point, she learns the arts of accommodation and does very well for herself. The price she pays is the loss of her identity, her connection to her kin and origins, and her moral standing. Framed by the world of ritual shadow plays - the realm of witches like Durga and the goddess Umayi - Mangunwijaya's novel gives an unblinking but remarkably compassionate account of people caught up in the great nationalist maelstrom of Indonesia's recent history.
Y. B. Mangunwijaya (1929-2001) was a well-known Indonesian political activist and writer as well as a Catholic priest, engineer, and architect. Ward Keeler is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin.
"Durga/Umayi provides a fascinating window on Indonesian politics and culture, in addition to being a particularly interesting example of Indonesian literature. Its descriptions of violence and the effects of it on ordinary people are truly outstanding. Its uniquely Indonesian style of magical realism, and the feminist twist, give it an added attraction in the context of contemporary literature."
-Dr. Patricia Henry, Northern Illinois University
Durga / Umayi
About the Author
Afterword: Mangunwijaya as Novelist/Puppeteer