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The Painted Alphabet
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The Painted Alphabet

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  78 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Appalled with the coruption of his daily life, Siladri decides to live the life of an ascetic with his wife and niece, but arch-witch Daya Datu and her protegee conspire to kill Siladri and kidnap his niece.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 1st 1994 by Graywolf Press (first published March 25th 1992)
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Community Reviews

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I picked up this book because it was so small and sweet-looking and the blurb said it was based on a Balinese epic poem. I devoured it in a matter of hours. It was epic and familiar in its tropical setting, something which reminded me of the Caribbean...but to me, the Caribbean feels so young in comparison to the Indonesian/South-east Asia/Oceanic culture.

However, around the twelfth chapter I turned to the back of the book to look at the author and this is where I regret my habit of not paying
At first I drew back for fear that the funny parts were a Western writer making fun of a quaint little culture, but when I recognized that the funny parts were really just an enjoyment of human goofiness, I started to love the book. The story veers from earthy to sublime without juddering. I will certainly reread this book, I hope in one sitting rather than piecemeal as I had to the first time, and it may even become a five star, i.e. book I intend to treasure always.
I wish I could locate the one sentence review I wrote for this book in 1998, when I was assigned to read and review it for a library school class I took from Nancy Pearl. This sensuously mystical tale set in Bali unfolds with magic, humor and humanity.
Loosely based on a folk tale from Bali, by an American who lived there for over 10 years and spoke the language fluently. Definitely a non-American perspective!

I loved the language and the descriptions, especially since I have been to Bali.
Alissa Mccarthy
It's a loosely woven Balinese fable and while certainly not written with the greatest skill, it none the less, really captured my attention. I enjoyed it for just the piece of delight I believe it was intended to be.
What did I get from this novel?

Soft lines around my eyes from too much cringing over the bad writing and cliche plot (which almost felt like it was 'stolen' from some Indonesian horror movies from the 70s/80s).
Based on Balinese tale, Diana Darling tells such an enchanting story of the island of God around 1900s. She's been living there for more than 10 years now, and also speaks the language.
Darling has taken an old Balinese epic poem(?) and re-created it as a truly engaging magical novel. I loved this book!
Going to Bali? Read this fairy-tale/epic for insight into the Balinese worldview.
Agus Ari
one of a novel i didn't read complete. it is so boring (for a balinese).
one of my favorite (literary) books. so beautiful.
A lovely story based on a traditional Balinese tale.
My first book from Bali, and probably not my last.
Best assigned reading of my schooling career.
Love the weaving of the magic and realism.
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Oct 24, 2014
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