It has been a while since I wrote a Library Loot post. Then again, it has been a while since I visited the library for new books, since so much of my reading has been slow and focused on books I already own. This past week, however, I have picked up a few new copies from the local library.
First, I came across a small list of Indonesian authors that might be of interest to students of Dutch colonial history. I cannot tell you how happy I was to finally discover a few titles, as I had tried to search for them before, but without a proper starting place it really is quite difficult to find what you’re looking for. In the end, I picked up these two copies. I have listed the English titles, but of course my library had the Dutch translation of said books. Funny how both feature “An Indonesian novel” in large letters on the cover. Anyway..
This is the first installment of a tetralogy (The Buru quarted) written during the time he was a prisoner on Buru island on charge of being a communist according to Suharto’s regime. This book is set during the final years of Dutch colonialism and tells the story of a Javanese boy Minke, who is educated at a Dutch elite school. He becomes involved with the daughter of Nyai Ontosoroh, who is a concubine of a Dutch man. Apparently, Toer was critical of Dutch colonialism and was imprisoned by the Dutch during the war of independence. According to wikipedia, Toer both incorporates the power of Islam as a power of resistance, but also criticises the way religion is sometimes used to deny critical thinking. While I am pretty sure I will encounter a lot of insecurities about how to formulate an opinion about a book in such a complicated setting, I cannot help but be very curious.
The Weaverbirds – Y.B. Mangunwijaya
Lontar Foundation, 1991
About Y.B. Mangunqijaya wikipedia tells me that he was a Catholic religious leader, architect and writer. I am quite interested if that makes a difference in how he portrays Dutch colonialism in the novel? Anyway, the weaverbirds, about which I can find surprisingly little information online (plus, no cover image!) is the story of the love between a Dutch KNIL soldier and a Javanese women who supports the Indonesian Republic.
To be honest, I do not have a clue what this novel is about, but I remember that I have heard the name repeatedly. Then, when Hannah mentioned it in my last post about Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day I couldn’t wait to get it from the library. So here we are. And the idea of a book about a letter exchange and friendship between Hanff and a bookshop owner? Sounds right up my alley.
I don’t exactly remember where I have seen this title before, I think it might have been over at Buried in Print or Amy Reads? The plot summary reminded me a little of Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea which I loved earlier this year. The Book of Night Women is about Lilith, born on a sugar plantation in Jamaica at the end of the 19th century. She joins a group of women who plan to revolt, but as she discovers her own identity and desires she also threatens to become a weak link in the conspiracy.
I was browsing and came across a title by Maria Edgeworth. There is no way I could skip it and not take it home, right? According to the back cover this book is “a controversial, hugely entertaining novel by a woman who dared to explore the masculine as well as the feminine worlds of her protagonists” and is “a critique of the way young men gained careers and young women gained husbands.” Um, colour me intrigued. Of course, in true Edgeworth fashion (except that Castle Rackrent was quite short so I guess I am undermining my own point), it is a long novel: 668 pages of not all that large print. I hope it’s worth it.
Did you pick up any books at the library recently that you are excited about?
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Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire (The Captive Reader) and Marg (The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.