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Map of the Invisible World article

 

Tash Aw – Map of the Invisible World

 

In the hustle and bustle of 1960s Indonesia, two orphaned brothers are adopted by very different families: Johan, by a wealthy Malaysian couple living in Kuala Lumpur, and Adam, by a Dutch painter from a simple coastal town in Indonesia. As they grow up, Adam often wonders about his older brother, while Johan is wracked with guilt at the memory of leaving him. In Indonesia itself, the shadow of colonialism is causing civil unrest, and foreigners are treated with increasing hostility, especially the Dutch. When Karl is arrested, Adam vows to do everything he can to find him. This extraordinary tale perfectly captures the turmoil of a country teetering on the brink of war; and the experiences of two young men in an exotic yet turbulent and often frightening world. A review in the Independent noted that “Aw’s prose is vividly lyrical … one can almost feel the heat and smell the sweat of Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.” The Daily Mail added: “A writer of great power and delicacy, as able to conjure stampeding crowds as the glow of fireflies.”




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