A bookish branch of The Meilairean Wednesdays by Febriani Savitri.
Title: Tiada Ojek di Paris (No Motor-Taxi in Paris)
Author: Seno Gumira Ajidarma
Length: 207 pages
Jepun Negerinya Hiroko is a memoir of a French diplomat’s wife during her living in Japan. This memoir took place after Kemayoran, after Dini was proposed by Yves Coffin. She began her life as the diplomat’s wife in Japan. She spent her days in Japan by taking French cooking class, watching her friend’s ikebana class and learning Japanese language with her Japanese friend. Her sociability helped her to get some new friends, including some close friends whom she would need to endure her tough days with her husband. As how the previous memoir was, we were shown many things she observed during the time-frame of this book. She observed the characters of her Japanese friends and the intricate details of Japanese buildings and environment. However, there are significantly less historical events mentioned, compared to her previous memoirs that took place in Indonesia.
Since Dini got engaged and married Yves, she noticed that her husband was either changed or simply not as perfect as she thought. He became stingy and temperamental. Because of his moody trait, they kept changing their household assistant. Each assistant could not bear with his impatience and harsh scoldings, while the ones who could bear it were recalled by their family to get married. Thankfully, Yves was still willing to help with the household chores. The middle to the end of this memoir told us how Yves' photography hobby took more and more portion of their daily life. In contrast, Dini had a hard time keeping up with her writings, of which Yves perceived as an unproductive hobby that could not be monetized. Even Dini had to hide her novel's draft to avoid Yves' anger for bringing "useless thing" during their travels. As tough as it was, Dini gave her best to bear with Yves’ difficult upbringing, for the sake of her baby and her family in Indonesia.
Thankfully, her days in the wonderful Japan were not just all about living with her difficult husband. She got to know some Indonesian, Japanese and French friends who helped her a lot. They helped with her daughter's milk, borrowed each other's clothes and jewelries, and taught her some tricks to deal with her stingy husband.
As mentioned earlier, this memoir captured significantly less historical events compared to the previous memoir. In contrast, there are significantly more descriptions of the places she visited and stayed in Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam. There are a lot of people introduced in this memoir. Sometimes it could be confusing, and unfortunately Dini tend not to refresh our memory when some characters reappeared after a long while. For example, during their visit to Hong Kong, they stayed at their acquaintances' place. The acquaintances appeared without any introduction, which made me assume that they were already introduced in the earlier chapter. However, there are so many characters that I could not recall when they were introduced!
Because of the detailed descriptions and daily life events that dominate this memoir, sometimes I found myself bored when reading this. However, if we intend to follow her memoirs up to the latest one, this memoir is an important part that shows us the gradual change of Dini and Yves' relationship. This memoir may also tell many new things for readers who are not familiar with Japanese living yet.
Maybe I found myself bored partially because there are not so much things that are new to me as a Japanophile. However, this shows me that the daily life in Japan in the 1960s is not significantly different from the present. Many still hold traditional value, and some out-of-traditional-norm relationships such as premarital domestic partnerships, mistress-keeping and one night stands in love hotels were already seen as not-so-unusual back then. However, I may be biased, considering that Dini is known for her explicit sexual descriptions and openness to taboo topics in her writings since her books were published in the 1990s. Apparently, some of her books were banned because they were considered vulgar in the New Order Era.
I would recommend this book for people who have read Kemayoran and intend to read Dini's later memoirs. This memoir can also be considered as Namaku Hiroko's behind-the-scene, as it was obviously inspired by many events occurred and people Dini met during this memoir's time-frame.
I have been familiar with Nh. Dini's fame since I was in junior high school (approx. 14-15 years ago). Some excerpts of her works were featured in the linguistic and literature lessons in my school. I have intended to read her books since ever, though somehow this book is actually the first of her books I ever read.
Kemayoran is Dini's memoir as a stewardess. She chose to work after graduated high school instead of becoming a full time university student because she did not want to keep giving financial burden to her family. Despite being welcomed to stay at her uncle's place, she also worked hard to find a room for rent so that she would not be a burden, and so that she could get ready to work along with her colleagues. Besides working as a stewardess, she took French and B-1 History course to become a teacher. I personally admire Dini's hard working attitude and work ethics. The spoiled me is obviously nothing compared to her.
Gaining her superior's favor with her work ethics and passion in reading, she and her team (The Big Five) were promoted to serve the president and his honorary guests from The Soviet Union. Her sociability and intellectual features got her acquainted with many prominent figures she encountered during her work, including Soekarno and his favorite foreign journalist, Bernard Kalb. She also got acquainted with some foreigners, including her future husband. Many reviewers expressed their notice on Dini's sociability and openness to talk about things that were (and still are) taboo with men, such as pre-marital sex and domestic partnership. The way she interacted with her male friend reminded me of what Ayu Utami told in her memoir, Pengakuan Si Parasit Lajang. I did not feel surprised that she decided to stay together with her male friend in a hotel room during a gathering of literary authors and artists, though it must still be considered taboo among Indonesian traditional and religious society, especially during that age.
As a writer, Dini enjoyed people-watching a lot during her work and her break time, besides reading books. This book tells a lot about the people she observed and the life during The Liberal Democracy Period in Indonesia. She described the daily life of the only national airlines' employees in the 50s. She observed the distinct characteristics of different generations of air crew, as well as different ethnic group's habits from her colleagues' behavior. I like how I can learn about the life in the past through historical fictions and autobiographies like this. Dini also wrote her commentaries on some historical events that were occurred during her career as a stewardess, from Soekarno's agreement with Worosilov of the Soviet Union, the rise of some rebel movement such as PRRI; Permesta and Darul Islam, to the rise of Indonesian Communist Party; Lekra (a literary and social movements associated with the Communist Party) and its counterparts from non-communist factions. Her commentaries are usually not explicit to the political aspect, instead they are more to their implications to the people.
This memoir is linked with Dini's four other memoirs from different phases of her life: Sekayu, Sebuah Lorong di Kotaku, Padang Ilalang di Belakang Rumah, and Kuncup Berseri. I have some of her other works in my TBR pile. Some of them are memoirs that took place in the periods after Kemayoran's time-frame, some others are fictions. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I am looking forward to read a lot more of her works, especially her autobiographical books.
Burung-Burung Manyar is opened with an episode of the Javanese adaptation of Mahabharata. The main story is divided to three sections, each took place in three different periods in Indonesian history: The Late Occupation (1934-1944), The National Revolution (1945-1950), and The Early New Order (1968-1978). Having written more than 20 years ago (1981), the classical Indonesian literature feel is incredibly thick here. There is many Javanese and Dutch terms that are explained on the footnotes. This reprinted edition also contains footnotes that explain old terms in Bahasa Indonesia that are already uncommon nowadays. There is still many old terms left unexplained, though. But then again, if they were explained, this book would consist of mostly footnotes. After a while, I became familiar with the terms and storytelling style. With the classic feel under the historical setting, I felt like time travelling to the periods where the story took place.
The Late Occupation
The story in this period centers around the Keraton Mangkunegaran. It shows the feudalistic life of Javanese royal society, where women must show her deep submission to her husband. It was opened by the male protagonist's narration, Teto, during his childhood. Then the female protagonist, Atik, was introduced. It was a happy, rather funny childhood of army and royal family. A few chapters later, things turned grim since the Japanese occupation began. The Japanese occupation grew strong hatred towards Japan for Teto. Atik's family also felt the same hatred, but they were also learned the civilized side of Japanese culture outside the fascist military in the World War II through music and movies. They also realized how the Javanese royal's tradition also has its civilized and cruel side.
Indonesia will not be a cruel independent state. - Atik
The National Revolution
After the declaration of Independence Day, Teto became a lieutenant of NICA, whereas Atik became a pro-revolution who adores Soekarno, Sutan Sjahrir and the rest of the Republicans. Despite their growing love, they keep opposing each other's political stance. In Teto's view, Indonesia needs some more time to mature as a nation before they gain its independence. He detests the Republicans who seemed like hypocrites who obeyed the Japanese to gain their own will through political maneuver. In Atik's view, it was more like "now or never". Life free or die hard.
You have to be able to read between the printed lines. Otherwise, you are just a mere captive of the texts. - Atik
In this period, we were introduced to Verbruggen, a Dutch Mayor who proposed Teto's mother in the past (obviously rejected). Having brought Teto to become a lieutenant in significantly short time and took an influence in Teto's character development, he became one of the important characters in this book. He has a foul mouth, but a fair amount of wisdom in contrast. We were also introduced to Karjo and Samsu the Setankopor (The Briefcase Demon) who will be shown again in the next period.
This period was ended in the midst of the devastating result of the two Politionele Acties (Agresi Militer Belanda) that brought both Indonesia and the Dutch military force much grief and loss, as shown on both Teto and Atik's side. Meanwhile, they began to realize how they long for each other. However, the harsh reality kept drifting them apart, much that Atik began to reconsider her long wait for Teto's proposal.
The Early New Order
There is quite much time skip from the previous period to the last period. After the Roundtable Conference, Teto quitted from NICA and studied Mathematics in Europe to be a computer expert. In addition, he gained a new nationality, which was not mentioned explicitly in the book (though I assume that he became a Dutch). He became the Production Manager of a multinational oil company. In this period, he visited Indonesia for the third time since he got the new nationality. He visited his new best friend, John Brindley, an European Ambassador who keeps pet snakes in his garden. Afterwards, he attended Atik's dissertation defense. Accepting Atik's family's invitation, Teto decided to stay at their place for a while. How will Teto and Atik's relationship develop, after years of separation and opposing ideals?
In this period, Teto seems to already calmed down significantly. He grew up and accepted the loss he has been experienced since ever. He also began to accept the changing era and acknowledged his own mistakes. Like the rejected male weaverbird, he rebuild his nest - his life and dignity - after passing through the phase of anger and denial, where he furiously destroyed his rejected nest (ideals).
Beside showing the societal and political aspects that were occuring in the corresponding periods, Romo Mangun (the author's nickname) also took us back to experience the changing ecological condition of Java in the 40s to the 70s. The scene where Atik fed the birds and watched their behavior told me how diverse the city birds in Java back then. It shows how srigunting, jalak, gelatik, manyar and kutilang were still commonly wild in the cities in the 40s. The diversity gradually decreased and finally the wild weaverbirds became rare in the 70s. Nowadays, there is mostly sparrows and occasionally a few more kinds of city birds roaming in the cities of Java. The other kinds of birds are mostly kept as caged pets today.
There are many things that I like from this book. I like how I got to refresh my memory on the history of Indonesia through the three periods shown in this book. Even instead of refreshing my memory, I felt more like diving those periods, experiencing the events occurred there from the Republicans and the Dutch armies' side. The narration style, of which I assume adopted the way people talk in the corresponding periods, really helped to live up the atmosphere. I also like how this book shows how people from different sides in this book perceive the three periods that were used as time settings. It taught us to sympathize with those different sides, even if they are commonly seen as the antagonists.
This book ends beautifully, leaving a bittersweet feeling that seemed to have accumulated since the second period. However, it felt a bit odd when I realize how Karjo and Samsu was not furthermore involved in the story. What is the purpose of their presence, other than to describe the society and political issues in their corresponding periods? Overall, I enjoyed reading this book a lot. I would love to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical literary fictions.
The international edition of this book, The Weaverbirds, was published by Lontar Foundation in 1991. Unfortunately, the edition is already considered rare now. I hope Lontar Foundation will consider to reprint this book in the future so that this book can be accessible to more readers.
Anyway, I have not encountered footnotes in fictions for ages until I began to read this book. Is it because I have not been an avid reader for some time until recently, or it is indeed already uncommon nowadays?
Title ジュン (June)
Genre slice of life, supernatural
Self-published (approx.) 2014
I am not sure when did I start to buy more light novels than original manga or doujinshi in doujin market events such as Comifuro, Cocoon Festival, AFAID's Creator's Hub, or artists' booths at cultural conventions such as Popcon Asia or Hello Fest. Despite not being among the most common product in those market events, they usually take most of my expense there, followed by some original art prints (traditional art prints, especially ones done in watercolours, are my weakness) and a few fanart keychains. June must be one of the first light novels I bought there, besides a couple of light novels by Arief Rachman.
The theme of this light novel is interactions between the living and the dead. It is opened with a rather chaotic but peaceful morning of two neighbouring families, both with one child that seem to be close to each other despite their arguing every now and then. The girl, Junelia Alexandra, June, is a cheerful and energetic Francophile. The boy, Jun Miruzamu, is an anime otaku who conveniently lived under a Japanese name inspired by his dad's friend and a Japan-esque house. Lived, mind you. Turns out that Jun has been dead for a few months, but somehow remains a wandering ghost among his family and June. Somehow it is only his family and June that can see him. Why June though? Does she have any special meaning to Jun, or simply have a special ability to see ghost? One more mystery rose near the end of the light novel, when a little girl made him visible when she holds his hand. Oh, and how that train ticket seller be able to see Jun? Is that a part of the mystery that suppose to happen here, or just one of a few inconsistencies detected in this light novel?
Unfortunately, this light novel has yet to answer the "why"s and "how"s. It seems to be the first of a few planned volumes. After a bit less than a year, I have not seen the continuation so far, though. I kind of hope that I will be able to read the continuation someday, when I have not completely forgotten about the first one at least *LOL*.
I also hope that the writing will be improved by then. As how I mentioned earlier, there is a few minor inconsistencies found in this light novel. First, of course, is the train ticket seller's ability to see Jun due to his special ability or just to make it convenient for the comical scene to work? Second, if June takes commuter trains every so often, why does she have to buy individual ticket instead of just getting the prepaid train pass? Last, at the beginning of the novel where Jun and June's family's peaceful morning is described, their fathers were portrayed to enjoy contrasting kind of coffee. Oh, wait, contrasting? Did cappuccino suppose to be the opposite of Arabica Coffee? xD
Despite the questions that remain unanswered and unpleasant experience of finding inconsistencies, I fairly enjoyed reading this light novel. I managed to finish reading it from start to end in about less than two hours. The author may have a quite long way to go, but I would say that this light novel is a good start.
This is a review to the Indonesian edition published by Elex Media Komputindo (2013).
I have to admit that I was confused the whole time I was reading this manga. First of all, I had a trouble on telling which characters are male and which characters are female. I had the same problem on Natsume Yuujinchou (and Mushishi actually, but that is out of topic). Maybe the mangaka does have an issue on that, or maybe the mangaka intended to imply a message that most personality traits are independent to gender – or something like that.
Second, I was confused with the whole conspiracy that is going on this manga. The story follows Setsu, a girl who seeks to meet Luca, the newly crowned kind who happens to be Setsu’s childhood friend in the countryside. Luca’s mother, the former king’s concubine, was exiled due to her being accused as a rebel. Turned out that Luca is the only child of the deceased king, thus he was summoned by one of the retainers to be crowned as the new king. However, the newly crowned king Setsu met in the capital city is not the Luca that she knew. Who is that king? What happened to the real Luca? What did actually happen to Luca’s mother, that she had to be exiled? Will Setsu be able to see Luca again?
Third, back to the difficulty of telling who is what, I also had a trouble telling who is who in some panels. Many characters look similar to each other, so I had to pay a close attention to their distinguishable characteristic. The king, especially, was difficult to tell apart from Setsu when they were together in a panel without having Setsu has her ponytail on. Sometimes the mangaka wouls show hints of gold on his hair color, but the other times he just look like a blonde, just like Setsu.
I have known Midorikawa Yuki through her strange heartwarming and bittersweet stories such as Natsume Yuujinchou and Hotarubi no Mori Ie. To be honest, I also expected this manga to be heartwarming or bittersweet. Maybe it is intended to be like that, considering the complicated nature of the relationship between the characters. Though, the confusion rose from reading this manga ruined the expected mood.
On the good side, I am happy to see many strong female characters in this manga. Seems that prominent female figures in the military are not uncommon in this manga’s realm. Besides the tomboyish Setsu who made a living from duels, there was Luca’s mother and her best friend. I like how the manga focuses more on the emotional bond between the characters, especially on friendship, rather than pointing out gender differences (role-wise). I also like how the relationships in this manga are more on friendship than romance. In addition, despite the difficulty to tell some of them apart, I like the complex characterization of each one in the manga. Almost each character, if not all, has their own story. This manga could be longer to explore each of them even more and make the whole story clearer, but overall I do not mind this story to be wrapped out in just three volumes either.
This is a review to the Indonesian edition published by Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia (2015).
It has been ages since I bought a non-fiction, let alone a scientific non-fiction (I had my days when I read heaps of books on socialism). I have my regret that I did not bought those Selidik National Geographic series that tell about history of different ancient civilizations, now that some (if not most) of them have been sold out. When I saw this amazing book by Richard Dawkins, loaded with interesting illustrations by Dave McKean, I knew I could not miss this book.
If I am not mistaken, this is the second book by Richard Dawkins that have been translated to Bahasa Indonesia. Maybe third, considering that I have seen the Indonesian version of The Selfish Gene by another publisher ages ago. Though I guess that it was just a summary, because it is so thin in pocket size. Anyway, I kind of doubt that all of his books will be translated in Bahasa Indonesia, considering the advocacy of atheism he implicitly inserted in his books. Apparently even some parts in the Indonesian version of River Out of Eden were censored, although I am not really sure on that. Just something my old friend guessed long time ago.
Dawkins opened this book by the two subjects on the title, reality and magic. He elaborated reality and how to tell reality from imagination, myth and assumptions using scientific methods. Then he elaborated magic, and stressed on the poetic magic of reality. In the next chapters, he presented some myths and folk stories that tried to answer some fundamental questions that became the title of each chapter. then he elaborated some scientific theories that explain the answer to those questions and sometimes counter the myths. As a former science and biology student in high school and college, I am familiar with many of the theories explained in this book. However, I am amazed by Dawkins’ explanation on sleep paralysis and false memory syndrome to encounter the myth on alien abduction and ghosts like incubus, succubus, old hag, or the “ketindihan” phenomena in my country.
What I like the most about this book - besides the interesting illustrated format - is Dawkins’ storytelling style to elaborate the theories he presented. I always had problem on understanding how atom works when I learned it at school. Dawkins’ answer made it so much more understandable. Now if only it can be presented in much less words, it would be great for pre-teens and teens who are struggling to understand it at school. This book would already great for them who are keen to read more, though. As a member of a society that is not commonly trained to read on regular basis, I can find myself too lazy to read even this nicely illustrated book.
This is a review to the Indonesian edition published by M&C! Gramedia (2015).
Natsuyuki Rendezvous must be among of the first titles I noticed on my early days of my comeback as an anime and manga enthusiast. It was put on the featured section at an anime streaming site I visited a lot back in late 2012. The title, the pretty art and the synopsis caught me, though somehow I haven't managed to watch the anime up until now. Thankfully, M&C published the manga in Bahasa Indonesia sometime this year. The publication went smoothly that we managed to get all of the mangas including the extra volume in just a few months.
The story follows Hazuki Ryousuke, a 22 years old man who is madly in love with his 30 years old boss, Shimao Rokka. Turned out that she is a widow whose deceased husband, Shimao Atsushi, still haunts the florist they are working at. Strangely, it was only Hazuki who was able to see Atsushi as a ghost. To make things even more complicated, Atsushi asked Hazuki to borrow his body. How will Hazuki respond to the ghost's request? Will Rokka be able to move on and embrace Hazuki's feeling? Will Atsushi let his wife go and continue her life?
This manga shows the complication of matured romance that involves the importance of compromise, the strength to let go and move on, and some acts of physical intimacy. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this manga. I like the bittersweet story, the setting full of pretty flowers and plants, and the complication between the characters. I like how Hazuki adores every aspect of Rokka, including the ones that many men often find unattractive such as Rokka's rough working hands and how he fell in love at the first sight when he saw Rokka being immersed in her work. I like how he can accept that somehow Rokka is still attached to her deceased husband, without having him give up on her.
Before this manga; Saiunkoku Monogatari; and No.6, I did not buy many mangas published by M&C! Gramedia because the majority of them are generic shoujo mangas I do not normally enjoy. I once joked on how M&C should determine their genre focus and be the Flower Comics of Indonesia. Even the light novels they started to publish recently are all shoujo, LOL.
That said, I did not notice how they use different font from the one commonly used in Elex Media's mangas. I admit I am not very comfortable with the tall font they use here. But I guess I have to get used as they also use it in Saiunkoku Monogatari and Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii. Back to the tendency of M&C to publish mostly shoujo mangas, I am happy to see them publishing new titles from more diverse genres. Nowadays I am reading their licensed release of Saiunkoku Monogatari; No.6; Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii and Sakamoto desu ga?. I am sure to be looking forward for more!