Beauty Is a Wound

Beauty Is a Wound

Eka Kurniawan




Paperback with flaps


$7.88 $7.09

In Stock


Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

$7.88 $7.09

Share On

(Paperback with flaps | ISBN 9789385755682 | 480 pages | February 2016)


Described as ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude kicked into another gear’, Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humour and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The novel begins with the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, then a Dutch colony, during World War II. Dewi Ayu, a beautiful half-Dutch, half-Indonesian girl, is captured by Japanese soldiers along with twenty others and brutalized. After the US Army frees Indonesia—and Dewi—from the Japanese, Dewi finds her family untraceable and their mansion occupied by American soldiers. Struggling to survive, she turns to prostitution and soon becomes the most sought after prostitute in the land.
Dewi Ayu gives birth to three daughters, each as stunning as herself. Over the course of their lives, Dewi and her daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. However it is Dewi’s fourth daughter—named Beauty in a cruelly inverted joke—who draws them all together and brings this epic tale to its final conclusion.
Drawing on local sources—folk tales and all-night shadow-puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope—Kurniawan’s gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his nation’s troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; and the mass murders of perhaps a million ‘Communists’ in 1965, followed by three decades of Suharto’s despotic rule. Kurniawan’s distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.


Click here to read an excerpt from the book.


'Indonesia’s most exciting author'—BBC Culture

‘Kurniawan, born ten years after the massacres, is in many ways a literary child of Günter Grass, Gabriel García Márquez, and Salman Rushdie’—The New York Review of Books

'Original and powerful… Maybe, who knows, the judges of the Nobel Prize could, in a few years, consider giving [Eka] the prize that Indonesia has never received?'—Le Monde

'Kurniawan does not merely traffic skillfully in magic realism; his Halimunda—like García Márquez’s Macondo and Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County—lets him show how the currents of history catch, whirl, carry away and sometimes drown people…García Márquez could fall into sententiousness and grandiosity; Kurniawan, by contrast has a wry, Javanese sense of humor…Whatever he chooses to write will be well worth reading.'—New York Times Book Review

'a touching combination of romance, tragedy, and satire, the novel follows the women of one family over many generations as their struggles reflect the Indonesia's turbulent past and its battle for independence.'—Harpers Bazaar

'Indonesian scholar Benedict Anderson suggested that after half a century Pramoedya Ananta Toer, one of Indonesia's greatest writers, "has found a successor.'—The Sydney Morning Herald

'Kurniawan’s writing demonstrates an affinity with literary heavyweights such as, yes, García Márquez and Dostoevsky, as well as Indonesia’s own social-realist master Pramoedya Ananta Toer, to whom domestic fans have dubbed him an heir. Most intriguing, though, is the influence of the home-grown pulp fiction that was popular when he was growing up in West Java… Refreshingly, Kurniawan puts value on literature as entertainment, and his books are certainly that.'—Guardian

You may also like

About the author

Eka Kurniawan

Eka Kurniawan was born in Tasikmalaya, Indonesia in 1975. He studied philosophy at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta. He has published several novels, including Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger (longlisted for the International Man Booker Prize, 2016), as well as short stories. His novels have been published in thirty-three languages, including English.

View profile