Jakarta Three Ways.

 Underground temple in Jakarta. Three routes downwards?       Image

Today’s post is A REVIEW OF RAMADAN SKY by Australian author, NICHOLA HUNTER.

It’s a while since I read the beginning of Ramadan Sky on the Authonomy site and became immediately captivated by the young boy suffering patiently with an abscess and asking little. Anyone who has experienced that unique agony will be hooked. The environment of Jakarta and its limited resources for comfort is immediately set. So is the culture of patient fortitude in the face of painful circumstances.

The book has undergone revisions before publication and now begins with a prologue that tells the end of the story. Normally I find prologues a mistake but not this in this case. It sums up exactly how the narrator feels, how any of her readers would feel for her at the end of this three-way story. I call it that because there are three main characters but one story. Or you could say there are three stories which are running the same path.

Vic, the no-pushover female narrator from Australia, her young lover and his fiancée, native to the city play out their roles and in so doing, reveal for us in painful and telling detail, the corruption, poverty and interdependence which is that part of Indonesia.

It didn’t alter my enjoyment that none of the characters are truly likeable, even the peripheral ones. I found the main characters well-rounded, with positive and negative aspects to their personalities making them all the more real.

Vic has come to Jakarta to teach English, as do many educated native English speakers.  She is not young, not particularly feminine, so the name suits. A good choice and indicator from the start. She does not look for love, but in seeking a guide and chauffeur more or less from necessity, finds a young man who gradually enters her life. They have a passionate affair, despite their age difference, his impending marriage and his fiancee’s dependence upon that fact. This girl is under pressure from her family,  who will benefit from the marriage. The family benefit far more, in the development of the plot, from the very means of the threat ahead – such a strong and ironic twist.

The skill of the author lies in her ability to allow our empathy with each of these characters despite the fact that their personal motivations and needs are in competition with each other.

By the end of the novel we can predict exactly what will happen to each of the three in the future. We are not told. We can draw it clearly from the narrative.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable story, enriched by its insight into Indonesian culture. Super stuff, read avidly at one sitting without even rising for a glass of wine.

The novel is published by Authonomy and is available via Amazon.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Publisher: Authonomy (26 Sep 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • ASIN: B00DAK6US8

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