From The JAKARTA GLOBE, Oct 31, 2013:

Ceritalah: Longing for Home

By Karim Raslan

Leila Chudori has written an epic. At over 456 pages (including footnotes), “Pulang” is an ambitious slab of fiction crammed with a rich and diverse cast of characters whose lives have been swept along by Indonesia’s dramatic and at times extremely tragic contemporary history.

However, this is not a dry, text-book account of the post-Independence era. While the rise, fall and bloody dismantling of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) is the engine driving the storytelling, Chudori — an experienced Tempo editor and film-reviewer — wisely chooses to focus her attention on a peripheral figure, Dimas Suryo — a flaneur, a happy-go-lucky journalist swept along by events.

Dimas is “Everyman”: he is a sensualist who loves his women but lacks the fortitude and gritty determination to hold onto them. Trapped abroad (in Paris) by a twist of fate just as the PKI is being hunted down, Dimas is forced to become a cook at an Indonesian restaurant called Tanah Air, channelling his creative energies and his desperate longing to return home into his food.

Chudori is a prodigious and impressive storyteller, switching the narrative between various characters across decades and continents. For example, we get to know Dimas as a father, a son, a husband, a loyal friend and feckless lover. (more…)