The topic of cultures clashing has always been fascinating to me, and Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw is a great example of how fiction can illuminate a complex history. By examining the lives of a few individuals during the struggle for independence in Indonesia, we see the pain, confusion and damage done to an entire country.
The story centers on the life of orphaned Adam, which serves as an effective metaphor for the struggle of a young nation trying to find maturity and security. No one in the book - whether indigenous or implanted - seems to have a home, or even know where home is or what it should look like. The story of a country with no past is really just millions of stories of people whose personal stories have disconnected from their own history. Even knowing your parents isn't the same as knowing your past.
The story is at once familiar and one-of-a-kind. I'...
A Note on the Sidebar
The Dutch, as English speakers refer to them, are citizens of The Netherlands, also known as Holland. Although the terms Holland and The Netherlands are effectively interchangeable, Holland originally referred to just one small area of the country (North and South Holland); while Netherlands (meaning Low Country) historically referred to the area that is now split between Holland and Flemish speaking Belgium.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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