Friday, September 21, 2007

When I'm in a country, I like to read both fiction and non-fiction about it. So now that I'm in Makassar in Indonesia I picked up Pramoedya Ananta Toer's The Fugitive. The description mentioned that he is considered most the Indonesian most likely to win a Nobel Prize so it sounded promising.

I was disappointed as the prose was heavy handed and the characters were flat, very flat. It's the story of Hardo, an Indonesian who's rebelled against the Japanese army and is hiding as a beggar. It could have been interesting, in the hands of a better writer. The dialog was so heavy handed. Early on I was turned off by a protracted monologue Hardo's future father-in-law has as he's in his garden unaware that Hardo can hear all he's saying. Who just talks to himself on and on like this blurting out everything that would be convenient for Hardo to hear?

It's a short novel of 170-some pages. Normally, I'd finish in a week or less. I make myself read 10 pages a day and then treat myself with other reading afterwards. I've never had to do that.

Before leaving the US, I bought a lot of books including three of Toer's Baru Quartet. Perhaps he became a better writer with time. Yet I won't be picking up book one any time soon and I won't make myself finish it.