This Earth Of Mankind – Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Pramoedya is perhaps the best known Indonesian author of all times. This Earth of Mankind was the first of the Buru Quartet which he wrote from jail. There were no writing implements, so he told the story in installments to other inmates and then wrote it down from memory after getting released. The story is set in the Dutch era Surabaya where the protagonist, a native, is the student of a prestigious school. The story involves his falling in love with a mixed heritage girl and the challenge they face when the Dutch assert their rights over her. The dynamics between ‘pure bloods’, ‘Indos’ and ‘natives’ are interesting and the presentation of the colonial Indonesia is fabulous. The writing is old school – so not too exciting and the translation adds another layer between the writer and the reader. However, the story continues to unfold at a good pace and the novel continues to be readable. However the story falls into a bit of an innuendo after two thirds of the book and the characters become paper caricatures. Another flaw a key mystery is unresolved. Read for a flavor of the past.