Tag Archives: the rainbow troops

Review: The Rainbow Troops: A Novel

rainbow troopsLaskar Pelangi oleh Andrea Hirata
The Rainbow Troops: A Novel by Andrea Hirata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: I have 2 copies (an Uncorrected Proof courtesy of Random House Australia and I also bought a hardcover) and the Bahasa Indonesia edition was lent to me by a colleague

I left Jakarta and arrived in Australia as a student at the tender age of 15. This was nearly 20 years ago. I realised a few years ago that since I barely hung out with any Indonesian friends, my Bahasa Indonesia has deteriorated to the point that I am possibly unable to write or speak in the formal language. In my bid to improve, I asked my sister to bring me back some books each time she went to Jakarta. Each time, she came back without Laskar Pelangi because they’ve always sold out! Hence, began my obsession over this book. What’s so good about it that I can’t seem to get my hands on it?!

Since the movie was easily accessible online*, I watched the movie first. Gasp! yes, I broke the rule! It was so touching and inspiring, I could see the mass appeal. The courage of these children, whilst living in poverty, to grasp their rights to education and to the aspiration of better future. With the support of dedicated teachers, how could they fail? I also had to smile at the hint of (adult) romance in the movie whilst there is none in the book

Needless to say, I was excited when I heard it’s to be translated to English and become easily accessible to me. I also chose this as my f2f bookclub in 2013. I read this book in a couple of days and most others also found it to be really easy to read. I think the word everybody used was inspiring both from the children’s and the teachers’ perspectives. All were holding up the importance of education for a good and improved future.

When I changed jobs late last year, I found an Indonesian colleague who owned a copy of the book in Bahasa Indonesia. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass by. It took me 240px-Laskar_pelangi_sampulapproximately 2 weeks to read as I was pacing myself because I was struggling with the language a little. As my colleague puts it, the language was actually very formal and therefore, the read wasn’t going to be easy at all. Then, to my distress, I found I had to read 494 pages in comparison to the 291 pages of the English book (!)

There were quite a few things being cut though most key events were there. The most surprising thing was that the difference in the ending. Not of the main character but of the fates of his mates. I don’t understand why you would change it? It makes sense to condense the book but to change part of the ending confuses me.

I believe the appeal of this book was firstly (sorry to repeat myself but there is just no other word that fits right) the inspirational content. And yet, even with the best of minds, fate still plays a big role in determining the future. For me personally, I found the books to be reminiscent of my childhood. Not the poverty as such but rather the language and the children’s play. These are my favourable impressions of the book.

As I read the work in Bahasa Indonesia, I found the language tend to be quite dramatic and quite tires me out. I think there were moments even in the English book that it was so (example below). This is woven throughout the book not as a tool but it is how Indonesians are –it’s inherent in their culture and therefore, language. What’s funny in Bahasa Indonesia seems rather ridiculous in English.

At that moment it seemed as if all the hands on all the clocks in the entire world stood still. All moving things froze as if God had captured their movement with a giant camera from the sky. The camera flash was blinding. I saw stars. I was stunned; I felt like flying, dying, fainting. I knew that A Miauw was yelling at me, but I didn’t hear it, and I knew that the shop was becoming smellier in its stuffy air, but my senses had already died. I guess she felt the same way.

I am wondering also about the tendency to call plants by their Latin names… is that really necessary? There were many English words in the original work though where I think at times, there was no literal translation which will do but there were times that it will. This is not something that English reader will experience but it is something I’m wondering about…

I’m curious about the movie sequel which was released on Christmas Eve though it’s taken on the title of the second book of this tetralogy. I really don’t know too much about it but I’m not in any hurry to read the next book in this series because I need a break from grappling with the language.

To the English reader, do read this book if you’re curious about the culture. This was a very easy and quite smooth to read in English. The chapters are divided in a way that each has own short story with the same characters and you can put it down and pick it up with no difficulty at all. The characters were absolutely delightful, each with their own goodness and foibles. The Rainbow Troops will entertain you with its humour, inspire you to grasp your dreams, or perhaps remind you of forgotten dreams.

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My reading (or rather bookish) week

I am amazed that I still managed to fit in my bookish events with how crazy life has been with moving, arranging rental, and just overall “life”!!  But then again, how could you not FIT in bookish events!  I don’t know about you but it’s how I keep my sanity 😉

The week before, I happily went shopping for my “Divergent” outfit for the Allegiant launch in Sydney this past week.  I had to be able to wear it to work (at a corporate office environment) then onto the launch.  Embarrassingly, my (male) manager noticed the matching bag & skirt! I don’t know whether that means I don’t usually match or the outfit was a total stand-out.  I still didn’t win best-dressed but I had a fun time hanging out with Divergent fans 😀

allegiant  dressup

Do you know your Divergent?  Which faction did I dress as?

We also had our bookclub meet this weekend and as we toured around Asia this year, we visited Indonesia via The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata.  It was a busy weekend of cooking and eating Indonesia cuisine whilst somewhat discussing abovementioned book.  For the last 2 months, as each members took turn reading, I received feedback of how good it was but then it surprised me that the general consensus with the rating was only about 3/5 stars (disallowing the half-star).  Everyone found the book to be “inspiring” (it appears to be the Word of the Day) though there was a discussion as to whether the book was about the teachers or the children.  Everyone wonders though whether the rest of the books (a quartet) will be translated into English so I think an interest to progress in the series is a good indication of the book’s rating.

DSCN1222  DSCN1230

Menu of the day:

Gado-gado (salad served with peanut sauce)

Sate (pork satays served with a salsa type of sauce)

Semur sapi (some sort of beef stew)

Tempe Kecap (tempeh is fermented soy beans, cooked with beans and lots of sweet soy sauce)

Biji Salak (a dessert made from sweet potatos –kumara with tapioca flour served with palm sugar and coconut cream)

Putu Ayu (pandan flavoured with lots of coconut topping)

This week, I’d be attempting to finish reading the following books:

antigoddess  clockwork heart  waterfell

I’m still trying to ‘recover’ from my Netgalley splurge a couple of months ago! 2 of these are due to expire this week, eep!

I really would not have a clue when my blog’s anniversary is however thanks to WordPress who informed me 6 days ago that it’s been 3 years since I first started blogging (wow, who would’ve thunk!?).  So, in celebration… *drum rolls*

GIVEAWAY – 3 random book parcels (AU mailing addresses only)

random parcel

Note: totally random books so neither you nor I will know exactly which one you’d be getting –I know which books they are but since they’re wrapped, I wouldn’t have a clue which I’m sending to whom!

Go to my Facebook page for the Rafflecopter entries (unfortunately, WP does not host this widget)

T & C:

  1. You are over 13 yo
  2. You have Australian mailing address
  3. If you are drawn as winner, you have 48 hours to respond to my notification email
  4. Giveaway ends midnight of 11th November 2013