Monday, January 30, 2012

Jane Austen Novels Challenge

Novels written by Jane Austen are widely read, reread and appreciated in many movies and discussions. Talking about movies, I've already seen 3 movies based on her famous novels which are Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. I enjoyed all that movies because the main characters were always woman with their unique personality and the ending was sweet. These three movies had a happy ending but it didn't feel cheesy at all.

Jane Austen Book Club (

And then I found and interesting movie titled Jane Austen Book Club. It was not film based on her novel but it's a story about five women (again!) who somehow felt lost in their love life and have one hobby in common: love to read Jane's novels. They decided to read/reread each novel in one week and discussed it once a week. It helps them to finish all Jane's novels and somehow find enlightenment to their life yet helped them to solve their problems. What a sweet movie. :)

Another movie that I plan to watch is Becoming Jane. It was based on biography of Jane Austen written by Jon Spence. I was surprised to the fact that this film was released on March 2007, how I could not know about this movie until now. Unbelievable!

My experience with Jane Austen's was always made me happy and warm so I decide to read all her novels that I could find. Maybe I won't be able to finish it on one month but I've challenged myself to read one novel each month, I hope this personal challenge will end before Christmas. This challenge is personal to me. But if you feel challenged, I welcome you to join this Jane Austen Challenge. Ready guys?

List of Jane Austen novels that I plan to read:

1. Sense and Sensibility
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Emma
4. Mansfield Park
5. Persuasion
6. Northanger Abbey
7. Lady Susan

Monday, January 23, 2012

#4 Manyar Birds

Burung-Burung Manyar by Romo Mangun, published by Djambatan (2004)

Burung-Burung Manyar or Manyar Birds has been considered as a masterpiece of Y.B Mangunwijaya (well-known as Father Mangun), one of Indonesian famous writer. This novel  tells a romance story that take place in early 20 century, exactly when Japan and then Dutch tried to reign in Indonesia in 1940s. The story begins with an introduction of the main character, Teto (Setadewa Brajabasuki) and Atik (Larasati). This two children is childhood best friend although has different family background.

Teto's father is an Indonesian but also a KNIL (Dutch army) and his mother; Marice is a Dutch woman who likes Kejawen (Javanese tradition) very much. Atik is the daughter of Antana's family who support Indonesia freedom but actually a close friend of Brajabasuki's family. Japanese reign in Indonesia bring a great change to Teto's life. His father was missing and her mother is forced to be jugun ianfu (concubine) for Japanese troops. His hatred against Japanese troops leads him to join Dutch army. In other hand, Atik joined the Indonesian revolution that fight for Indonesian Independence.

After many years apart they finally meet again, realized that they've been standing in the opposite site make them very sad although it's not resist Teto to express his true feeling. But their ratio conquered their love at that time because cross to one side to fight their love will become a great betrayal of what the believe for their whole life. Later, the Dutch army was forced to leave Indonesia, and they were separate again in a long time.

Years passed away and suddenly Teto come back to Indonesia to meet his lifetime lover, Atik.  But things become very different, he has changed and so has Atik. In a freedom era where they don't have to choose side, there are still many things that prevent them to be a couple. Is this story will end happily? Read the book and you'll find that the end is astonishing.

Y.B. Mangunwijaya
Father Mangun writing style is unique. Although he write in Indonesia language, I myself as Indonesian am difficult to understand what he really mean by his words and sentences. I have to read it many times and sometimes I have to see the page before to understand the section that I'm reading. But after I used to it, his novels is beautiful indeed, it represent the great intelligent from its writer. This is the first book of Father Mangun that I've read, and thankfully because of this superb novel, I began to find his other novels like Roro Mendut, Genduk Duku, Lusi Lindri and Burung-Burung Rantau.

The strength of this novel is based on how details Father Mangun describe Indonesia condition at that time. Not only the war, but what Indonesian people and also foreigner that lived in Indonesia think about the situation in our country. How people are consciously have to pick sides to save his/her life and family. It's interesting that Father Mangun can build his reader imagination when he described Teto as "anak kolong", what are his habits and what people think about KNIL army at that time. How confusing the fact that he has an Indonesia father but being hated by his Indonesian friend s because of his status.

This novel won South East Asia Write Award in1983 and also Ramon Magsasay Award in 1996. It's worth to read the book and other writing pieces of Father Mangun. I gave this book 5 of 5 stars. What a remarkable novel!

Manyar bird or weaver bird has Latin name: Ploceus manyar, a grain-eating birds (granivor), prefer open habitats such as meadows, forest edges, swamps and rice fields. You can find the complete information on this website:

#3 Jane Eyre

Have you ever heard an idiom, Plain Jane? I thought maybe the "Plain Jane" idiom must be derive from the story of Jane Eyre. I bet it this. :)

Jane Eyre, Published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama on October 2011
Jane Eyre is not a very special woman, she's poor, less fortunate and not beautiful but she is a strong-willed and though woman. She struggles to have a better life and she finally has it. It was told that Jane Eyre was an orphan and has been stayed in her uncle house. She was an ordinary child who demanded parent's love and company of brother or sister. But her cousins (John, Eliza and Georgina) treated her like maid and her aunt (Mrs Reed) hated her so much. Living in Gateshead Hall was like lived in hell to Jane, everyone tend to misinterpret what she said and did, and also saw her as a terrible kid.

Someday she was punished by her aunt and locked in the Red Room, she was scared and traumatic being locked in there because that room usually used by her dead uncle. This terrible event turn out to be her pass card to move and live away from her family, her auntie sent Jane to boarding school called Lowood Institutes. She was thrilled by the idea to have a new home and new friends, she promised to herself to act kindly.

Despite the bad environment and building and also lack of food in Lowood, Jane enjoyed her time in this poor school. She met her best friend, Helen Burns who taught her to be strong and surrender her life to God. She grown up as an educated lady and prefer to become private teacher. Although Lowood was like her first home sweet home, she made her mind to have her own adventure. This brought her to Thornfield, Mr Rochester house, father of Adela, her pupil-to-be.

From this moment we can guess that Jane would fall in love with Mr Rochester. And Charlotte Bronte did not surprise me when finally they plan to get married. Before the priest said that they finally legitimate as a couple, man and wife, someone throw an objection that Mr Rochester could not marry Jane, and it had to do with his past. Being shocked and disappointed, Jane run from the church and decided to leave the house. Would Jane finally get married with Mr. Rochester? What is the big secret of Mr Rochester that prevents him to marry Jane? Where she plan to go after she left Thornfield?

Jane Eyre movie (BBC version)
In my opinion, the story of Jane Eyre begins after she failed to marry Mr. Rochester. From that moment the story become more interesting. Charlotte Bronte, the middle of Bronte sister, provide us with a detail story of Jane's feeling, her personality and her point of view. Sometimes it will get us bored, but it's important to build the strong character of Jane who dare to be different from other women on her age at that time. The story plot is move slowly in the beginning but several events make me surprised and drawn me back to read the rest of this book. Overall I gave three (of five) stars to this book, bravo Charlotte!

Comparing to the movie produced by BBC, the book is more satisfied because I think the film failed to bring the chemistry between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Jane's struggle to forget her first love and also how hard she manage to continue her life did not pictured well in this movie. It's make me wonder, is there any better movie of Jane Eyre? To sum up, I suggest that people should read this book before go to see the movie. It worth to read but you may have a second book to read if you get bored.^^

Thursday, January 19, 2012

#2 Edensor

Jujur saya tidak membaca buku pertama dan kedua dari tetralogi karya Andrea Hirata ini. Saya baru tertarik membaca bukunya setelah menonton film Laskar Pelangi dan Sang Pemimpi dalam waktu yang berdekatan. Edensor, adalah buku ketiga dalam tetralogi dan saya pikir adalah klimaks dari cerita petualangan Ikal dan Arai. Sedangkan buku keempat merupakan antiklimaks yang tidak perlu. Mungkin kalau tidak ada Maryamah Karpov dan Andera hanya menuliskan Trilogi, saya rasa sudah lebih dari cukup. Memang saya belum menyelesaikan buku terakhir, masih setengah jalan, namun sudah dibuat bosan setengah mati menyimak usaha Ikal menemukan kekasihnya, A Ling.

Edensor oleh Andrea Hirata, diterbitkan Bentang Pustaka (2007)

Kembali ke Edensor, sinopsis buku ini memang mengandung spoiler alert karena memang buku ini dapat dirangkum menjadi satu kalimat: "petualangan Ikal dan Arai saat kuliah di luar negeri". titik. Namun jangan kecewa dulu, karena petualangan mereka benar-benar kocak dan tak terduga, walau kisah perjalanan travelling mereka berkesan agak "lebay' tapi secara keseluruhan buku ini menarik. Memang detil bukan "jualan utama" buku ini. Tapi penggambaran yg "memadai" disertai dengan alur yang cepat sangat sesuai dengan mood saya yang sedang jenuh dengan novel yang kadang-kadang terlalu mendramatisir sebuah petualangan. Yang jelas Andrea Hirata cerdas merangkai kata, banyak kalimat yang berima dan banyak metafora yang nyeleneh tapi "it's ok" dan kadang memaksa kita untuk tersenyum.

Seperti halnya kebanyakan orang yang baru pertama keluar negeri, duo sahabat ini mengalami beberapa eh banyak sekali culture shock. Hal tersebut mereka alami sejak pertama kali melangkahkan kaki di Eropa tepatnya Belanda. Entah karena kesalahpahaman atau ketidaktahuan mereka terpaksa bermalam di taman karena penginapan yang telah ditentukan baru mau menerima mereka keesokan paginya sesuai dengan jadwal (teganya!) Heran saja mengapa mereka tidak mencoba bermalam di motel atau penginapan lain, mungkin penuh atau mereka tidak punya uang. :)

Andrea Hirata (
Bagian yang paling menarik dari buku ini adalah ketika penulis mendeskripsikan teman-teman  kuliah Ikal dan Arai terutama deskripsi tentang The Pathetic Four. Bagian ini membuat saya terpingkal-pingkal, saya memang rindu dengan tokoh yang tidak sempurna sehingga berasa lebih membumi, menggugah saya untuk dapat menertawakan diri sendiri. Bila dibandingkan dengan bule-bule asal  Belanda, Amrik, Inggris maupun Jerman, memang "The Pathetic Four" (yang entah mengapa terdiri dari negara-negara berkembang cenderung miskin) memang benar-benar "pathetic" baik dari segi finansial maupun kemampuan akademis. 

Judul novel ini juga membuat saya bertanya-tanya, apa artinya dan apa hubungannya dengan keseluruhan cerita? Jawabannya akan kalian temukan di akhir cerita, agak tidak berhubungan dengan keseluruhan cerita namun tetap merupakan benang merah dari petualangan Ikal sejak masa kecilnya. Memang perlu diakui bahwa pemberian judul Edensor dan Maryamah Karpov memang kurang pas untuk buku ketiga dan keempat tetralogi milik Andea Hirata ini. 

Setelah keempat buku Andrea terbit, makin banyak buku fiksi maupun non fiksi yang bertajuk sama, kisah seseorang dari kampung yang kemudian berhasil meraih beasiswa untuk bersekolah di luar negeri. Namun kadang penulis lain terjebak untuk membuat sang tokoh untuk berkarakter sempurna tanpa cacat cela, inilah yang kadang membuat novel lain membosankan. Sedangkan Andrea Hirata menggambarkan tokohnya secara lebih manusiawi. Inilah yang membuat buku ini beda dari yang lain menurut saya. Empat (dari 5) bintang untuk buku ini, bagaimana menurutmu?

Laskar Pelangi in English version (andrea
Sang Peimimpi in English version (

Monday, January 16, 2012

#1 The Pallace of Illusion

 pic taken from here

When I read this book, I remembered one of the televisions serial "The Big Bang Theory". In one episode, Sheldon (one of main character) said to his friends that he did not understand about the movie Gremlin, because in the beginning of the movie, the main role was already warned by golden rules that he/she shouldn't fed the Gremlin but he broke it and the terror of the Gremlin began. He couldn't understand why people failed to do such an easy guidance. :D The Palace of Illusion is a story how sometime man cannot change his/her fate even though he/she has a clue to change it to a better way.

Panchali or Dropadi, the main character of this book was tell by an oracle that she will have a tremendous life, she will be famous but also have to suffer a great humiliation and pain. There were three things that she should do or she would be a cause of terrible event. Here they are:
  1. Just right before she got married, she has to hold her question
  2. When her husbands (yes, she had 5 husbands!) at the top of their power, she should not laughed at people
  3. When she had to suffer a humiliation, she must hold her curse.
Three simple things that will prevent a great war but if Panchali did those things; there will be no Mahabharata story. :)
In the beginning of the story, this book tells us about Panchali's childhood, her relationship with her brother and Kresna, her best friend. As a princess, she should married and her father conducted a contest to pick the right son-in-law. This contest becomes a disaster, I supposed, because in this contest she asked a question that will turn her life straight to fate that she must walk on. After she married, she was forced to fulfilled her mother-in-law wish that she must married all of her son, all five of them (The Pandawa), otherwise she would not blessed her marriage.

pic taken from here

Panchali finally agreed with Kunti (her mother-in-law), with neat arrangement she married with all Pandawa brother. But her grief did not last long because after several years of marriage, her husbands built her a luxurious, beautiful and magical palace that ever built at that time. Their kingdom became bigger and more powerful. She was called Queen of the queen; the most fortunate woman in the world even goddess will envy her. All the king and queens wants to invite by her to see her palace, The Palace of Illusion.

The arrogance nature of Panchali becomes a stumbling block for herself. She forgot that she must not laugh at people when she became famous. But she did it, she laughed at Duryodana, the leader of Korawa. This one laugh caused revenge. She was forced to unlace her clothes in front of her husbands and their friends (all the kings). In that moment she cursed all the kings in there that she will have a horrible revenge; that resulted in a greatest war in Kurusetra field. The war that will be regretted by everyone included Panchali herself.

This epic was written by with a different point of view, Panchali's point of view. Also it's written with a simple way so the reader don't receive an exaggerate information. But if you like a detailed story maybe I won't recommend this book to you. I rated this book 3 of 5 stars, how about you?