Home – Leila Chudori

by Rebecca Hussey


LEILA[Deep Vellum Publishing; 2015]

Tr. by John H. McGlynn

About two-thirds of the way through Home by Leila Chudori (translated by John H. McGlynn), the novel’s two protagonists discuss definitions of the “flâneur,” the figure of the leisurely walker. Dimas Suryo, an exile from Indonesia now living in Paris, offers his preferred definition to his daughter Lintang:

I am most in agreement with the explanation provided by Charles Baudelaire, who said that activity on a journey is the same as a home for the flâneur, like water for fish. Passion and work become one in the activity. A flâneur will forever be looking, and building his home in the flow and motion of movement. He might feel he has left his home, but in fact he built a home in his journey.

Thus Dimas explains his life of wandering to his daughter, and thus does Chudori introduce her central theme: how and whether one finds a home when forced to leave one’s original homeland. Can Dimas and Lintang, both flâneurs, find a home in the journey itself, or do they, in the end, want to return to — or in Lintang’s case discover — their origins? (more…)