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All That Is Gone

de Pramoedya Ananta Toer

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1034222,498 (4.1)3
In these early stories, many appearing in English for the first time, one of Indonesia's leading writers illuminates with a quiet ferocity some of the most turbulent years in his nation's history. Often told through a child's observant eyes, the eight stories - which draw on the author's own upbringing in East Java during Dutch colonial rule, Japanese invasion and bloody periods of independence and civil war - are written in warm, lyrical style that gives way to sudden pools of sadness.… (més)
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Pramoedya Ananta Toer is a major figure in world literature, listed in John Major's rewrite of the famous Lifetime Reading Plan among the likes of James Baldwin, Bertolt Brecht, Graham Greene, and John Steinbeck as one of 100 authors everyone should read. A constant contender for the Nobel Prize, he recently won one of France's highest literary awards and has won the highest award in Asian letters. In All That Is Gone, Pramoedya's semiautobiographical stories deal with life's major themes: birth and death, sexual knowledge and love, compassion and revenge. Some stories are written from a child's point of view, others from that of an adult. But all are written in a style that quickly wraps the reader up in this master storyteller's narrative web. This is the first time Pramoedya's short fiction has been widely available to the English reading public; its publication represents a significant addition to the canon of world literature in translation.
  Alhickey1 | Oct 13, 2020 |
Collectively a grim and devastating picture of a society, and the ways power inserts itself into the most intimate areas of individual and family life. Perhaps not surprising from a writer who spent much of his career in prison, his works banned in his own country. What was surprising to me is that the story in this collection that deals most directly and extensively with the country's political history is strongly anti-communist, even though Toer was a communist sympathizer and imprisoned by Suharto for left-wing views, and the country's bloodiest period was the massacre of more than a million people by the military in the name of the anti-communism. One suspects he had to disavow his former sympathies and confine his writings to the period of the independence struggle to be able to write at all, since it's still taboo in Indonesia today to condemn the massacres, and the killers are basically still running the country.

"Life is actually very simple, but [...] man, like a wind in the dry season filling the air with debris, turns simplicity into chaos." ( )
1 vota CSRodgers | Mar 16, 2016 |
Although short stories they flow nicely together and are extremely gripping. Excellent storytelling. ( )
  peterwhumphreys | Apr 17, 2010 |
All That Is Gone - Pramoedya Ananta Toer

This book of short stories surprised me. Toer has a great voice (I’d prefer taking a stab at reading in the original Indonesian language because parts of the translation didn’t sound right). The short story Acceptance was a sad and brutal tale of civil unrest and fighting between the Indonesian Republicans and Communist idealists. He put into words some of the most realistic descriptions of war brutality I’ve ever read… simple, unexplainable wrath that led people (masses) to inflict extreme torture on their own people. He wrote it so convincingly I felt I was standing in the crowd watching unable to stop the madness.

The short piece The Rewards of Marriage was a joy to read… fun, a touch of experimental, with a screwdriver-twisted-in-the-heart ending… though it was a trick screwdriver. Here’s a small portion of the ‘love story’ part of the tale…

“She wanted to embrace this man so tightly that their two bodies became one and inseparable. However, she was a woman and he was a man and between the two of them stood public sensibilities. That said, the love between a man and a woman is not something new to this world and, therefore, because this interlude about the love of Tijah and Soleiman might become boring if it were continued, it is better to end it here and allow the reader to finish it in accord with his own imagination and wishes.”

… now that’s my kind of love story. ( )
  Banoo | May 15, 2008 |
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In these early stories, many appearing in English for the first time, one of Indonesia's leading writers illuminates with a quiet ferocity some of the most turbulent years in his nation's history. Often told through a child's observant eyes, the eight stories - which draw on the author's own upbringing in East Java during Dutch colonial rule, Japanese invasion and bloody periods of independence and civil war - are written in warm, lyrical style that gives way to sudden pools of sadness.

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