zondag 13 juli 2014

Ayu Utami, Sagitarius

I follow the writings of Ayu Utami since more than ten years. It started with the novels on the priest Saman who worked for the villagers in their fight against the big plantations. At the conference of scholars with interest in Indonesia, Lissabon July 2013, I gave a paper on the idea of religion in her novels, with the basic book Bilangan Fu as the most important contribution.
Ayu has several ambitious projects: the series on Saman and Larung, the series Bilangan Fu, and also the course of writings short stories for some 60 participants at Salihara, cultural centre in Jakarta.In this volume Ayu writes seven stories, while four participants have given each one story.
I read it as a series of impressions about growing up in Bogor of a girl Indira. There is a zoological museum, a legend of the minotaurus, half-human and half-animal lika sagittarius. This is the mysterious atmosphere, like in many novels of the Bilangan Fu series. There are stories of corruption (the head of a library is transferred to a small town, because she suggested that her soperiors were corrupt).
In a circus Indira falls 'in love' with the acrobat, but her father is fond of the female attendant and they visit the performances in one months ten times. The movies of Steven Spielberg also have a mysterious character and they are much loved by Indira and friend. The main character marries and wants children. The husband is an atheist and Indira finds it abnormal, even a sin to be so close to an atheist. Their relation is not really flourishing. - I found it pleasant reading, but did not find deeper descriptions of issues like sex and religion, but they are mentioned in passing. I read already Capricornus and saw also a cover of Scorpio. Sometimes Ayu is like Arnon Grunberg: writings so many short pieces that it is difficult to follow it all. Probably that is not necessary to have an idea of her work.

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