When We Were Orphans

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Translator: Linda Boentaram
Publisher: PT Elex Media Computindo
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 414

This is the third book of Kazuo Ishiguro that I have read so far after The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, both books have been adapted into movies. I got to admit that Ishiguro is a real master of prose. His writing is always beautifully controlled, elegant and poignant.

This book is set in England and Shanghai prior to World War II. This is a story about Christopher Banks, an Englishman raised in Shanghai before he's finally sent back to London to live with his aunt at age of 9 upon the mysterious disappearance of his parents.In Shanghai he has a Japanese friend, Akira. They love to play a game and act like a detective. This game is the root of the work Banks finally chooses, he becomes a detective.

Now more than twenty years later, Banks is a celebrated figure in London society. He is a respected detective who has settled many important cases. But Banks has his own mission. He wants to find his kidnapped parents. But were they really kidnapped?

Let's follow Banks flashing back to his childhood in the East. Banks travels back to Shanghai. But the condition is so much different that he imagines. He finds Shanghai is already shattered by war. He's searching hopelessly into the ruins of the city in order to find out the place where his parents might just still be held captive.

A beautiful and complex tale of friendship, the bonds of family, romantic love and shocking ending. It's truly a master work of a master writer.

Harvest Time is Getting Closer

One thing that I love most about our home is its fertile land. It seems that every time we spread some seeds almost all of them grows beautifully. Of course there were times when the seeds didn't want to cooperate and refuse to grow in our yard but it's very rare:)

I remember one time our mango tree had soooo... many fruits until the tree itself couldn't handle it and it fell down to the ground with a 'bukkk...' sound and it also caused mango flood all over our yard. But it's also a sad moment, we had to cut the mango tree and said good bye. I finally change the mango tree with a sugar-apple (srikaya) tree, it grows well but up until now it still has no fruit yet:(

Several weeks ago I noticed that our mangosteen tree and rose-apple (jambu) tree started flowering. Unfortunately due to heavy rain every afternoon, lots of the mangosteen flowers fell down and only some of them survived. But thank God, we still have our jambu tree. Jambu tree's flowers seem stronger. Now the tree is standing there in front of our yard, ready for harvest time, yayy....        

Sepeda Merah

Title: Red Bicycle Vol. 1 & Red Bicycle Vol. 2
Author & Illustrator: Kim Dong Hwa
Translator: Meilia Kusumadewi
Publisher: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
Publication Date: October 2012
Pages: 144 (Vol.1) & 176 (Vol.2)

After falling in love with Dong Hwa's works in Trilogi Warna, I definitely will not miss his recent books, Sepeda Merah (Yahwari #1) and Sepeda Merah (Bunga-bunga Hollyhock #2). And my prediction is quite right, I once again fall in love even deeper with his works.

Sepeda Merah is a story about a postman. A romantic postman on his red bicycle who will take us  riding along Yahwari village. He will tell us the beautiful things about the village,  the  wild flowers, its blowing wind, the heart-warming people there and many more.

Yahwari is an imaginary village where older generation live after their children have left to town to make their own living.The postman goes to each household in the village to find out about the lives of the older generations while carrying news from their beloved children. In this town through the postman's eyes, there are many emotional encounters and opportunities to learn about values and life philosophies from the older generations.

The book is divided into several parts. Every part consists of five-six stories. You will find short story here since every story is made mostly only in four pages. What so special about this book is every page is filled with a masterpiece artwork in which the author narrates nostalgic memories of life and it's closed with a deep message that will warm our hearts. 

Just read the first story in Sepeda Merah vol. 2 Bunga-bunga Hollyhock. It's about an old man who wants to plant Hollyhock flowers along his yard to welcome his daughter visit. According to the old man's friends it's just a waste of time since there are already a lot of flowers in Yahwari. While the old man responses, "Pemandangan bunga-bunga Hollyhock akan mengingatkannya pada almarhum ibunya. Aku menabur benih-benih bunga ini dari gerbang masuk desa sampai pintu rumahku, saat melewati jalan berbunga ini, dia akan mendapat kesan sedang berjalan sambil menggenggam tangan ibunya..."     

A Little Piece of Paradise

A couple days ago my yoga teacher asked me to accompany her to Bandung in order to find a proper place to do yoga practice outdoor. That's the reason why this morning I had already been in Cipularang toll road. The traffic was friendly since perhaps only us who were 'crazy enough' to visit Bandung on Monday morning instead of weekend. 

We headed to SanGria Resort in Lembang. At the moment we arrived there, we held our breath for a moment and felt a deep peaceful feeling. It's a beautiful place. Featured with a nice landscaped pool and cozy room with mountain view. You might also enjoy the views of Lembang valley here. It's a total refreshment for our mind, body and soul.

I plan to take Najla and Zea here. I am sure they're going to love the pool and the surrounding. Furthermore there is a strawberry farm next to this resort. I guess it's just a perfect getaway!      

A Beautiful Lie

Author: Irfan Master
Translator: Tanti Lesmana
Publisher: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
Publication Date: September 2012
Pages: 302

"...kenapa orang-orang tidak bisa memahami bahwa huruf-huruf, kata-kata dan buku-buku membuat kita lebih kaya daripada yang sanggup kita bayangkan?"

--Irfan Master A Beautiful Lie page 19

This is the debut of Irfan Master, a novelist and a librarian who was born in Leicester in 1977 to a Pakistani mother and Indian father. He has always felt like the child of three countries, a fact that has played  a significant role in his life and inspired him to write this great novel.

The setting is India in 1947, following a struggle that has lasted over two decades, unfortunately the partition will soon divide India into two countries mainly along religious lines, India for Hindus and Sikhs, Pakistan for Muslims.

The central character here is a thirteen-year-old boy, Bilal. He has far greater problems at home namely his brother's terrorist activities and his father's life threatening illness. As it becomes certain his father will die of the cancer, Bilal makes decision to keep politics and the news of what happening to his beloved India away from his father, he can't bear for his dad to die broken-hearted.

With his three loyal friends, little Chota the Hindu, Sikh Manjeet, and Bilal's muslim fellow, Saleem, Bilal sets a plan to convince his widowed father that India will remain whole. This is definitely not an easy thing to do. This is the beginning of Bilal's lie. One lie that will lead to another lie until he concludes that everybody lies. But this is not just a lie. This is a beautiful lie.

The story is fascinating with a vivid portrayal of India in 1947 when the country was in political turmoil, some great characters and of course the friendship among the four of them. Their friendship is one of the best things told in the book. It's more than just a friendship. It's a heart-warming and honest relationship. They all get along perfectly despite their different faith.This friendship shows a contrast compared to India's condition at that time. 

This novel has been nominated and shortlisted for several awards, among others; North East Book Award 2012, Essex Book Awards 2012, Amazing Book Award 2012 and it will be published in seven languages. A beautiful book about tolerance, love and friendship.


Author: Ayu Utami
Publisher: KPG (Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia)
Publication Date: September 2012
Pages: 251

This is the second book in Bilangan Fu series. The author, Ayu Utami,  will make twelve books for these series. She plans to publish one book every year. Every book in the series will always consist of two things, which are a mystery that having relation to cultural treasures of the archipelago and one topic with the subject of logic or the way of thinking.

Lalita is a story about a woman named Lalita Vistara. She claims that she has been living in four different eras, on the 5th century in Nepal and Sriwijaya, 10th century in Magelang, Yogyakarta and Muntilan, 15th century as a dracula in Transylvania and the 20th century here in the archipelago.

The author divides the book into three chapters, Indigo, Hitam (Black) and Red (Merah). All is about color. Indigo will tell about Lalita as one of Anshel's granddaughter. The setting is the present condition now in Jakarta. While Hitam chapter tells about Lalita's grandpa, Anshel from Slavia during the late 19th century until early 20th century. After Anshel explores many things in his life, he at last  searchs his spirituality to Borobudur in Magelang, Central Java. He considers this journey as his critics to Sigmund Freud' psychoanalysis theory. And the last chapter, Merah will make all the characters in the book meet each other.
The central figures in Bilangan Fu series, two climbers Parang Jati and Sandi Yuda and one girl Marja will always appear in the series. The three of them have special relationship since they love each other in their own unique and sensual way. In Lalita, beside telling about these three characters, the author will focus on the story of Borobudur temple. The story will give new insight on Indonesian art, history and culture.

With her rich prose and extensive research, Ayu will bring her readers to a new viewpoint of Indonesian complex history. We will realize that there are so many things to be proud of as Indonesian. I also love the book cover. It was drawn by the author as an honor to the botanical painters, Amir Hamzah and Mohamad Toha.