Olive Kitteridge

Translated from: Olive Kitteridge
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Translator: Novieta Christina
Publisher: Penerbit ANDI, 2011
366 pages

What's the meaning of getting older? What life does seem in the eyes of old people? Is it still fascinating? Or nothing but suffering? The author delivered her empathy about the old people feeling, thoughts and their life in general in this well written book. It won 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

This book is unique. It is a collection of stories that covers 13 connected short stories about a woman, a retired Math teacher, named Olive Kitteridge and her family and friends in a small town in Maine. Olive is not a 'nice' person in fact she's one of the miserable character in the book. She's sometimes mean, impatient, immature, cynical that leads her to many difficulties in building relationship with others. But somehow in a weird way you eventually start to like her. Just like that.

Since Olive had been living in the town for quite long time, she knew almost everyone there. Here it goes, we will read 13 different stories with different characters, problems and how they handle it. Each story either centers around or at least mentions Olive. Most of the characters are troubled, damaged and suffer in silence. The author does a great job intimating each character's struggle and pain. Some people might consider this book depressing. Whilst in my opinion this book has brought me a new perspective about how old people actually think about their kids, son-in-law/daughter-in-law, neighbours, ex-colleagues and what kinds of relationships they need. The author is a master of revealing the many onion-like layers of interpersonal relationships.

Like any other great book, this book slightly shifts the way in which I look at the world and other people -- particularly my parents and parents-in-law --and perhaps most importantly, myself. Never thought that old people world is not as simple as we thought. It's sometimes complicated, awkward, funny and it turns out that their love stories also as sweet as young people do.

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

There are plenty of others willing to call you a failure. A fool. A loser. Don't you ever say it of yourself. You send out the wrong signal, that is what people pick up. Don't you understand? You care about something, you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it. There's something you need to know about failure, Tintin. You can never let it defeat you.

(Captain Haddock
in Adventures of Tintin the movie)

Do you love Tintin? I am sure Tintin will be in everybody's heart. I grew up with his adventures and to date I am still and always be a huge fan of Tintin. The Adventures of Tintin was created in 1929 by Belgian Artist Georges Remi (1907-1983) who wrote under the pen name of Herge. The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century with translation published in more than 80 languages.

When I heard that Steven Spielberg will adapt the comics into a movie, it's just a dream comes true. I can't hardly wait. The movie is just too engaging. A must watch. Enjoyable from the beginning until the end. One of the brilliant movie ever.

Suite Francaise

Translated from: Suite Francaise
Author: Irene Nevirovsky
Translator: Mimi Benetto & Lenah Susianty
Publisher: Penerbit Qanita
First Published: June 2011
631 pages

Whew...it's really a hard book to review. On one side the author tells about a unique look into the German occupation of France during World War II and I learned a lot about life in France in the early 1940s. But on the other hand as an unfinished book (it only consists of two parts of a projected five as a whole), it has no ending. Moreover the author wrote down so many characters in the books without any up-close-and-personal exploration. No wonder that I just could not connect with any of the characters and did not care what was happening to them. In fact I really struggled to finish the book and wished there was finally something awesome in this thick novel.

The idea of the novel is actually quite interesting. In the first section the author tells about the German invasion and the second part is focusing on the beginning of the occupation. But the execution of the book is disappointing. The pace is really slow and it is hard to get into the story since I could not emotionally connect with any of the characters in the book.

Then why is the novel so popular? I guess one of the reason is people curious about the author's life. Yes, the story about the author's life is much more interesting than the novel itself. Nemirovsky was writing this novel during the German occupation of France World War II and before she could finish it, she was captured by Nazis and died in a concentration camp in Auschwitz. Her handwritten manuscript remained undiscovered in a suitcase. At first her daughter thought it was a diary of her mother which would be too painful to read. In the late 1990s upon discovered what the manuscript was about, she finally published it in France and it became a bestseller in 2004 and has been translated into 38 languages.

If you are interested in reading France history perhaps this book is for you.

Pepustakaan Ajaib Bibbi Bokken

Translated from: Bibbi Bokkens magische Bibliothek
Author: Jostein Gaarder & Klaus Hagerup
Translator: Ridwana Saleh
Publisher: Penerbit Mizan
Gold Edition, 1st published on March 2011
282 pages

I am still exploring the magic works of Jostein Gaarder. This one is the best story talking about book and literal culture. As usual Gaarder tells the story from children point of view. The leading characters here are Berit and Nils, they are cousins that live in different areas. They keep in touch by sending letters. They call the letters a 'letter-book' which they send back and forth.

Once they met a strange woman who called herself Bibbi Bokken. One day Berit finds a letter that has fallen out of Bokken's handbag. The letter tells about a book she has which is to be released the following year. Berit and Nils are really curious to find out the writer of this strange letter. And the more they know about Bokken, the more mysterious she becomes. Berit and Nils realize that they are not only looking for a mysterious book but they also must try to find the magic library the book tells about. Their quest for the Bibbi Bokken magic library takes them on a journey of the world of books.

A comprehensive book that tells about detective story, mystery, treasure hunt, Astrid Lindgren, Dewey Decimal Classification, Winnie the Pooh, Anne Frank, love story, correspondence,writing theory, poems, book history, drama, conspiracy, and still more.

What I learned from this book is a huge love that Gaarder has through books. Only a person with this great love can write down this special story. The best book to date. A happy combination of suspense, humor and great wisdom. Definitely a must read.

Cecilia & malaikat Ariel

Translated from: Through a Glass, Darkly
Author: Jostein Gaarder
Translator: Andityas Prabantoro
Publisher: Penerbit Mizan, 2nd print, February 2009
210 pages

Having finished Gadis Jeruk, I suddenly feel for Jostein Gaarder's works. I am addicted to his words as well as how he changes the philosophy into something simple but still with powerful message. I plan to grab all his books and begin the reading. Here is the second book, a beautiful conversation between a sick girl and an angel.

What is more sad than having to celebrate your christmas in bed? That's what exactly happening to Cecilia. She just lies sick in her bed while her family is busy preparing for christmas. Suddenly an angel steps through her window. So begins a spirited and engaging series of conversation between Cecilia and her angel named Ariel. They talk about life and death, the differences between heaven and earth and also angels and human.

Cecilia is suffered from serious sickness and this christmas is possibly her last one. But from their intense talk finally Cecilia's feeling through life and death changes. From feeling anger and denial over her sickness, she reaches a calm acceptance of what will happen to her.

This sentimental and heart-warming story will definitely make us more grateful to who we are and what we have. We will ponder more on our bodies, health and all things we take for granted.

Gaarder again amazes me with his work. He talks about life, death, God and universe with wisdom and compassion. A must read. Don't forget to keep the tissue near you, the story is sad yet touching.

Sang Penari

Producer: Shanty Harmayn
Director: Ifa Isfansyah
Writers: Salman Aristo, Shanty Harmayn, Ifa Isfansyah
Casts: Nyoman Oka Antara, Prisia Nasution, Slamet Rahardjo, Landung Simatupang, Tio Pakusadewo, Lukman Sardi

Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk Trilogy is one of the best book ever. It's one of Ahmad Tohari's masterpiece. I read the book long time a go, back in 1980s. I still remembered that I was so amazed by the story and all the characters there.

Now here is the movie Sang Penari that is inspired by the book. It's not fair to compare those two different things. Book and movie are totally different media. Book can convey many detail element while movie must say its message within two hours. Moreover the director already said that the movie is not adapted from the novel, but only inspired. Therefore for those who read the book will find many different things in the movie although it's still fine.

The story was set back in 1953 in a small village, Dukuh Paruk. It's about Srintil and Rasus who had already known each other since they were kids. Later on love came between them. Things got complicated when Srintil felt that she had already been chosen as Ronggeng (not all women can be ronggeng) while Rasus disagreed. Upon his dissapointment, Rasus finally joined the army.

The story moved on to year 1965, the year of Communist uprising. At that time mass killing happened almost everywhere including in Dukuh Paruk. Srintil was also one of the victims and Rasus was in a query either to defend his corps or pursue his love story.

The book tells more on tragical moments over Srintil and Dukuh Paruk people whilst the movie focuses on the love story between Srintil and Rasus. Although the political issues also appear on the scene but still it's not as detail as in the book. Nevertheless I appreciate the people behind this movie. I thank them for giving me the chance to go to a theater and enjoy a good Indonesian movie among those setan-pocong-kuntilanak movies.

Steve Jobs

Translated from: Steve Jobs
Author: Walter Isaacson
Translator: Word++ Translation Service & Tim Bentang
Publisher: Penerbit Bentang, 2011
742 pages

A special biography of a special person.The one and only Steve Jobs, a visionary and a creative genius. Let's drown into a roller coaster life and a 'unique' personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection have revolutionized seven industries: personal computer, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, digital publishing and retail stores.

Jobs personal life was always be an enigma. But this special biography will reveal all. A very detail and comprehensive book. It took 2 years to finish and based on more than 4o times interviews with Jobs as well as more than 100 interviews with family members, best friends, adversaries, competitors and colleagues.

If people make biography for popularity but not for Jobs. The objective of this book is more on sharing. He asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. Jobs encouraged people he knew to speak honestly just like he did. Jobs spoke candidly and sometimes brutally about the people he worked with and competed against.

Be ready to get stunned to find out Jobs negative's character. It was described very comprehensive in the book. He could be petulant and very rough to people around him. It seems to me that he was driven by demon, he could drive those around him to fury and despair. Although all of these was driven by his passion and pursuit of perfection. Moreover he's a person who loved artistry and technology.

A very inspiring biography. There are a lot to learn from Jobs' phase of life. It was started from his famous adoption story to the start of Apple computer then to NeXT, Pixar, continued with his love life, the development of his iconic products and closed with his health condition. From the book also I knew that Jobs was an extreme vegan and fruitarian since he was young (hence the name Apple).

I finished the book within a week and at last felt melancholy. The biography actually made me feel like I knew him. Highly recommended.

Shiny Happy Girls

My girls and I went to Kidzania last Saturday. This is the third visit for Najla and the first for Zea. Najla was super excited. She wanted to try all and worked at every available place for her. On the other hand Zea was excited and curious at first but after working at four factories, she said she was tired, needed a little break and had an early lunch. Perhaps working at factories was just too hard for a 4- year-old girl *excuse* :)