There’s no curse more terrible than to give birth to a pretty female in a world of men as nasty as dogs in heat.
One stormswept afternoon, after twenty-one years of being dead, the beautiful Indonesian prostitute Dewi Ayu rises from her grave to avenge a curse placed on her family. Amidst the orange groves and starfruit trees, her children and grandchildren have been living out lives of violence, incest, murder, madness and heartbreak. They are creatures of heartbreaking beauty – all but one of them, whose ugliness is unparalleled. And Beauty is her name.
Set in the mythical Indonesian town of Halimunda, Beauty is a Wound is a bawdy, epic tale of fearsome women and weak-willed men, communist ghosts and vengeful spirits, chaste princesses and ruthless bandits. It is also a satirical portrait of Indonesia’s painful past, journeying through almost a century of brutality, from Dutch colonialism and Japanese occupation to revolution, independence and dictatorship. Weaving together history with local legend, Eka Kurniawan spins a fantastical masterpiece in which darkness and light dance hand in hand.
Eka Kurniawan Biography
Eka Kurniawan was born in Tasikmalaya, Indonesia, in 1975. He studied philosophy at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, and has since published a number of novels and short stories, including Man Tiger, for which he was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2016, and Love and Vengeance, which will be published by Pushkin Press in 2017. Beauty is a Wound has now been published in 27 countries.
A note from the UK editor Daniel Seton
Eka Kurniawan is one of the world’s most exciting young authors, currently on the longlist for the International Man Booker Prize, so I was extremely excited when I found out we’d be adding his novels to the Pushkin Press list. Published in 27 countries across the world, Kurniawan’s latest novel, Beauty is a Wound, has created an international buzz.
Beauty is a Wound is a riotous Indonesian family epic reminiscent of One Hundred Years of Solitude. It tells the tale of a fearsome, beautiful prostitute, Dewi Ayu, and her four daughters. Through the stories of these five women, we see their country’s tumultuous journey from the era of Dutch colonialism to the present day. Gleefully mixing registers, the novel can veer from Gabriel García Márquez to Quentin Tarantino and back again in the space of a few pages, weaving a gripping blood-drenched saga out of Indonesia’s troubled modern history.
You’re guaranteed to be thrilled by Kurniawan’s vivid, colourful style, and swept away by the sheer range and power of the storytelling in Beauty is a Wound. Indonesia is such a vast, varied and yet little-known country, made up of over 17,000 different islands, with strong Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions. This novel uses all of the beauty and complexity of the author’s homeland to blend history with myth, and tell an unforgettable tale.
Kurniawan’s writing has won him comparisons to great authors from Salman Rushdie to William Faulkner, but now he is beginning to forge a worldwide reputation all of his own. We’re very proud and excited to be one of the publishers to help him do that.