Sang Penerjemah

Translated from: The Translator
Author: Leila Aboulela
Translator: Rahmani Astuti
Publisher: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama, October 2011
272 pages

A stunningly beautiful novel written by a Sudanese writer, Leila Aboulela. A story about a young Sudanese widow, Sammar who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland as an Arabic Translator in a Scottish University. Since the sudden death of her husband and her only son lives with her family in Khartoum, Sudan, Sammar is all alone, mournful and lonely in the cold and grey Aberdeen, Scotland.

But things change bit by bit. It is all begun when Sammar acts as a translator for Ray Isles, an Islamic Researcher from Scotland. From strong friendship, it blossoms into a romantic thing. When they begin to fall in love, Sammar realizes it won't be easy. As a muslim, Sammar thought she can't have a romantic relationship without a marriage nor she can have a marriage without Rae's conversion to muslim.

This delicate conflict brings Sammar back to Khartoum, Sudan where she contemplates about her life all over again. A mixture of love story between mankind and his God which is very complex yet touching. A story about a brave woman who stays true to her belief, herself and her love.

Reading Aboulela's story reminds me of Indian writers, i.e. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Jhumpa Lahiri. Not completely similar but they can convey their stories in a detail and delicate way. Fascinating.

This book is nominated for the Orange Prize and was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times in 2006.

When God Was a Rabbit

Translator: Rini Nurul Badariah
Publisher: Penerbit Bentang
First Published on August 2011
398 pages

A debut novel written by Sarah Winman. A story about a family. The book is divided into two parts, the first part is about Elly's childhood in England during mid 1970s and the last part telling on her current life in New York.

Let's meet Elly and her brother Joe. Despite their eccentric family, they have a special relationship on each other. One day Elly got a rabbit and her brother suggested her to name it, God. Elly's life changed since then. This is not a common family story. I am amazed to find many 'strange' characters and moments here such as: the gay people, an alcoholic mother, a friend who is a victim of child abuse, a kidnapping and many more. But beside the bitter stories, I also enjoyed their childhood experiences in a great big home surrounded by green forest where they can easily go to the river for swimming, boating and fishing. Some experiences are so dull and they keep me laugh out loud. This first part of the book is my favorite.

The second part of the book is a bit serious. Elly has already been grown up now and live in New York. Life is not too engaging anymore. It is more like routine. Her life was turned upside down when she found out that her brother Joe was one of the victim of that cruel incident. Does the story end here? Of course not, keep reading and be prepared to find surprise things on every page of the book.

All in all this is a very unusual and totally original story. It is beautifully written and captivating. A story about family and in particular the bond between a brother and sister. Highly recommended.

Nguping Jakarta

Editor: Isman H. Suryaman & Primadonna A.
Penerbit B First

First published on August 2011
221 pages

Inspired by Overheard in New York, finally on September 4, 2008 Nguping Jakarta was born. A place where every reader can share his/her overheard experience.

If you are looking for a light book to accompany you sipping your cup of coffee, I guess this book is the one. Grab this book and you will be entertained by reading the absurd dialogue overheard by people all over Jakarta. Happy laughing:)

Gadis Jeruk

Translated from: The Orange Girl
Author: Jostein Gaarder
Translator: Yuliani Liputo
Publisher: Penerbit Mizan
Gold Edition, July 2011
252 pages

This is actually not a new book, first published on 2003 and Penerbit Mizan also had translated and published it on March 2005. But I just happened to read it a few days a go and suddenly felt in love with Jostein Gaarder's works.

Remember Sophie's World? It is a very phenomenal book that has been translated into fifty-three languages. This book has put Gaarder as one of the best author in the world. Gadis Jeruk also one of Gaarder's best book.

If most people think that learning philosophy is just complicated perhaps their opinion will be changed after they read Gaarder's books. Just like this book, a simple book with unique theme. A 15-year-old Georg Roed receives a letter from his dead father. It turn out that his father had written the letter before he died but Georg just got it after 11 years. Here the philosophy and the life lesson begin by telling about his father love story with an Orange Girl, we will be taken to a beautiful journey. Let's explore the world and all the magic things there. No worries. Life is just too rich and we are lucky to be part of it. Never thought that learning about life could be so fun.

Love the book from the first page until the end. A must read.

Dongeng Sekolah Tebing

Author: Clara Ng
Illustrator: Ella Elviana
Publisher: Penerbit Buah Hati
1st published on August 2011
226 pages

The newest children story book written by Clara Ng. A big book with great stories and beautiful illustration. You will find 52 different stories about a blue building located at the edge of a windy cliff. This building has two functions, as a school for 13 students and at night it changes into a rest area for a cow.

The book divides the story into 52 weeks which means you will know what going on there in Sekolah Tebing within a year. Here we go, let's start our adventure. The stories are not only telling about the 13 students and their teacher but also about all living things in the surrounding, such as: the butterflies, the cow, the rat, the flowers, the baby, and many more. Moreover there are also lovely songs and poems. I guess this book is one of the best children book ever. Love it.

I read two stories every night before Najla & Zea go to bed, now we are still in the 15th week story and we enjoy it a lot, we just can't hardly wait to finish all the 52 stories very soon:)

The Smurfs

There is a place.
A place that knows no sadness, when even feeling blue is a happy thing.
A place inhabited by little blue beings three apples high.

La la la la la la... sing a happy song
La la la la la la ....smurf the whole day long

Look at this little blue creature, the Smurf. I am a huge fan of Smurf. I read and kept all their comic strip when I was still in my elementary school. This comic strip was drawn by Peyo, a Belgian comic artist. Beside Smurf, I also love other Peyo's work which was Johan and Peewit (Indonesian version was Johan & Pirlouit). I remembered at that time (during 80s) all Peyo's works were translated and published by Penerbit Aya Media Pustaka. I still keep some of the comics though:)

Now we can see these cute smurfs in a 3D movie. This time the smurfs are being chased out of their village by the evil wizard Gargamel. They run away and finally stumble upon New York City.

I watched the movie last weekend with my little girls. For me it's just adorable to see my childhood favorite character in the movie. While Najla tried to learn the character, Zea seemed not too enthusiastic, I guess for her, Barbie is still the best :D

Air Mata Sang Jerapah

Translated from:
Tears of the Giraffe
Published by BENTANG, April 2006
369 pages
Thanks to Ferina for swapping this book:)

Lately I feel that detective books are not my cup of tea anymore therefore I stop reading that kind of books for quite sometime but this thought has suddenly been changed the minute I read the series written by Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

Let's meet Mma. Ramotswe, our detective. Just like other detective book, it is also a case to be solved by Mma. Ramotswe. In this book is about a mother who has lost his son for the past 10 years. It's going to be a hard job to do but nothing is impossible for our detective. By using her intuition and intelligence she finally knew what has happened to that missing son.

But the most interesting part of this book is not about the criminal case. There are a lot of elements to ponder, such as: The setting, in Botswana, you'll find a different Africa here, no war nor famine, in fact you'll learn their rich culture and characters. Even from Mma. Ramotswe's everyday life, her love story, her smart secretary and people she meets along the way definitely may bring new insight for us.

I am also amazed to find out that the writer is a Scottish Law professor who has already written various kinds of books such as the medical law, criminal law, philosophy, children books and novels. I guess these detective stories are one of the 'fun' kind of books he wrote.

A humorous yet heart-warming book.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

This is a debut novel written by the late Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, Annie Barrows. A special novel that I am sure will warm everybody's heart. Don't get confused with the long and 'unique' title. This story is much simpler than the title:)

The setting was London in 1946, when it just recovered from second world war and writer, Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Out of the blue she received a letter from a guy she never met, Dawsey Adam, a native of the island of Guernsey. Dawsey found Juliet's name in one of her books.

This letter was a start of their beautiful relationship. They exchanged stories and Dawsey told her about his book club with his friends in Guernsey island, it's called The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. Why on earth did they have that kind of queer name for the book club? It's a long story, we have to get back to world war II when the German occupying their island. Soon Juliet started the correspondence with other society members. Through the letters, she learned about their lives, their islands and their taste in books.

Due to her curiosity, Juliet finally visited the island and felt in love with all things there. The story is told in letters form. Letters are spread here, from Juliet to the island people, her friends in London, her publishers and vice versa. At first we will get a bit confused since there are many characters and names to remember, but soon you're familiar with all the characters, you'll fall in love with their story and can't put the book down. I even check the location of the Guernsey island and suddenly want to pack my things and go directly there.

It's really a special book. The story about the celebration of hope, friendship and the life itself. Hopefully this book will be translated in bahasa very soon since it is highly recommended.

Life Traveler

Konon, bumi ini milik mereka
yang mau berhenti sejenak untuk melihat-lihat,
lalu meneruskan perjalanan


You can learn from anything, anywhere, anyhow. From this travelogue, the author Windy Ariestanty shares what she learned so far along her traveling. Started from Hanoi, continued to Frankfurt, Prague, Paris and also her experience in US.

The special thing to note is how the author observed and interacted with the surrounding and the people at every stop she made. Therefore you will find not only the traveling story here but also the 'feel' of every place the author visited. It turns out that there are a lot to learn. If you stop for a while and look carefully to your surrounding, even the silence can teach you something. At least it brings you the peacefulness and (hopefully) at last the gratefulness of being who you are now.

After finishing the book, I am sure you'll be tempted to pack and plan your trip. A very recommended travelogue. A different one. Beside the traveling tips, there are also the great pictures and quotes at every chapter and what I love most are the beautiful illustrations made by Diani.