From the author of the Buru Quartet and one of the greatest writers of our time comes a remarkable memoir of imprisonment and survival.
In 1965, Pramoedya Ananta Toer was detained by Indonesian authorities and eventually exiled to the penal island of Buru. Without a formal accusation or trial, the onetime national hero was imprisoned on Buru for eleven years. He survived under brutal conditions, somehow managing to produce his masterwork, the four novels of the Buru Quartet, as well as the remarkable journal entries, essays, and letters that comprise this moving memoir.
Reminiscent of the work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Mute's Soliloquy is a harrowing portrait of a penal colony and a heartbreaking remembrance of life before it. With a resonance far beyond its particular time and place, it is Pramoedya's crowning achievement--a passionate tribute to the freedom of the mind and a celebration of the human spirit.
"A haunting record of a great writer's attempt to keep his imagination and his humanity alive."-- The New York Times Book Review
"A story too vast and serious to ignore."-- San Francisco Chronicle (front page review)
I thought Indonesian literature had no hero
By A Customer - August 24, 2000
As a gen-xer, I grew up in Indonesia not knowing anything about Pram. He was a figure who popped up in the newspapers once in a while for receiving this or that award or when each of his new publication was banned by the regime. Possessing his book was a crime punishable by law. As a teenager, I saw his book, "The House of Glass" (rumah kaca) in a Singapore library, I was really curious, and felt compelled to pick it up. However, I was brought up never to challenge the authority so I stared from afar, hesitating whether to pick it up or not. I decided against it.Years from then I would see that picture of young me in "The Mute's Soliloquy." A boy timid from intimidation. A boy raised in fear, never realising that the only thing to fear should have been fear itself. Pram, in a free world, I would grow up just like you didn't want your children to grow up. Pram, in a country I loved, I was told not to love it because it has no love for me... read more
A Story of Survival in the Indonesian Gulag
By Joseph Schechter - December 20, 1999
I had not read any of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's books before this one, but I will now try to read them all!This volume is a compilation of various materials that Mr. Toer was able to write during his imprisonment (without trial) for 13 years. Most of that time was spent on the remote island of Buru, where he and other prisoners were used as corvee' laborers to reshape the island. They did this at a huge price in human suffering and death.However, I would emphasize that the artistry and raw beauty in Mr. Toer's writing in The Mute's Soliloquy, shines through the misery and isolation faced by the author and the other prisoners. Mr. Toer gives us an idea of how he and some of other prisoners managed to maintain their basic humanity in the face of deprivation, torture and brutality. Mr. Toer's letters to his children, in particular, are moving, sometimes humorous, and insightful.His book is a worthy companion of those by Primo Levi, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, and Elie... read more
A very moving & honest book!
By A Customer - August 20, 1999
As usual, Pramoedya succeeds in giving a very moving and honest portrayal of life in Indonesia. This book evokes emotions deep within one's heart. It brings out one's compassions for the writer, his family, and his fellow prisoners. It also gives a very good description of how successfully had the Soeharto's regime oppressed the minds of Indonesian people. When reading this book, as with reading any of Pramoedya's books, one gets the sense of how passionately he loves Indonesia, how great a hope he has for the country and the people despite of all the atrocious treatments he has received from the government. However, the average readers will need to have a basic knowledge of Indonesian modern history from the year 1945 to be able to better enjoy this book.
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