My favorite things Java

1. Novel: Pramoedya Toer, The Buru Quartet.  I like this better than say Mahfouz or Rushdie.  It focuses on the key question of what a life may be said to consist of, and each of the four volumes makes the others richer.  Another famous Indonesian novel is Andrea Hirata, The Rainbow Troops, it is good not great.

2. Gamelan music CD: Java: Court Gamelan.  Dreamy and beautiful, this is one of my favorite world music CDs.

3. Popular music: The Smithsonian has a very good 17-CD set of Indonesian popular music.

4. Classical pianist: Eduardus Halim.

5. Movie: Raid: The Redemption.  Martial arts reign, after the police storm an apartment fortress.  If you like the genre at all, this one is special.  Note that The Act of Killing is set mainly in Sumatra and thus does not count.

6. Movie, set in: The Year of Living Dangerously is the obvious choice.  I believe the old “Krakatoa, East of Java” is set…east of Java.

7. Painter: I can’t say I love Affandi, so I must be missing someone.

Xaviera Hollander deserves mention, although in what category should she be my favorite?  Old Javanese Gold is excellent, plus there is puppetry.  The best textiles are from Sumatra, or from the smaller islands.

Overall I have long felt a kinship to this culture, and I am excited to be visiting Java for the first time.


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