Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Beauty Is a Wound” as Want to Read:
Beauty Is a Wound
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Beauty Is a Wound

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  2,680 Ratings  ·  578 Reviews
The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan's gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his you ...more
Paperback, 470 pages
Published September 2015 by New Directions (first published December 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Beauty Is a Wound, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 01, 2016 Rowena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia
"One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years."- Eka Kurniawan, Beauty is a Wound

This book has one of the best, most memorable opening sentences I've ever read. And it definitely set the stage for one of the most compelling and engrossing stories I've read in a long time. Over 500 pages of prose and I enjoyed every page. Even without having any knowledge of the history of Indonesia, I loved it.

Indonesia seems to have had a turbulent hist
Eka Kurniawan, said to be following in the giant steps of Indonesia's most famous author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer (known for his anti-colonial and social realism tetralogy, Buru Quartet), is a popular literary young blood who could be as heavily influenced by a host of literary icons. His novel Beauty is a Wound is a 20th century Indonesian historiography told in the rich folklore of her culture; in gothicism that awakens memories of Lafcadio Hearn's chilling Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strang ...more
Aug 26, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing
Fascinating Allegorical Tale of Indonesia f/k/a Dutch East Indies
If you enjoyed tales of political/social allegory, such as Animal Farm and One Hundred Years of Solitude, that exercise your brain, without being overly exerted or challenged to the point of losing intrigue, the kind of story in which you delight in discovering (or trying to) the metaphorical meaning of actions, characters and things within, then I recommend you put this on your list of books to check out.

This brilliant novel ref
Aug 26, 2015 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“It’s true that oppressed people only have one tool of resistance: run amok. And if I have to tell you, revolution is nothing more than a collective running amok, organized by one particular party”

Beauty is a Wound is one of only two (so far) works by Indonesian journalist, writer and designer, Eka Kurniawan that have been translated into English. Twelve days after she gave birth to her fourth daughter (ironically named Beauty), Dewi Ayu, even at fifty-two still the most beautiful and desired pr
Oct 04, 2015 jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: translation, fiction
a beautiful, stirring, and powerful epic of indonesian politics and family, eka kurniawan's beauty is a wound (cantik itu luka) must surely be considered as one of the year's finest works of translated fiction. sweeping across decades and generations, beauty is a wound is a violent, enchanted saga, compelling on account of both its impressive breadth and storytelling verve. kurniawan, an indonesian journalist and author, published this remarkable novel when he was 27 years old (released in engli ...more
May 11, 2016 Cher rated it did not like it
1.5 stars - I didn't like it.

After an incredible opening paragraph, this one has begun to just disappoint and bore. DNF'ing around 75 pages / 15% in. I have had my fill of rape, incest and bestiality and am choosing to move on to another book on my never-ending TBR list. This one's just not for me.

First Sentence: One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years.
Nov 26, 2015 Brianna rated it liked it
There is so much rape in this book. I'm not necessarily averse to that but I have questions about how and why sexual violence functions as both plot point and constantly revisited method of characterization, as nearly all of the women in this novel - both primary and secondary- are defined and characterized by their brutal and repetitive violations.

The novel was often beautiful and really well written. I can understand why it has drawn so many glowing comparisons to One Hundred Years of Solitud
Joachim Stoop
Jun 16, 2015 Joachim Stoop rated it it was amazing
In 100 years this book will (still) be considered an important piece in our literary history.
This is epic, compelling, hard, beautiful. It deserves the same recognition as A Hundred years of solitude by GG Marquez & Voltaire's Zadig. Top!
Alice Lippart
An excellent and original tale. Lots of history, a bit of magical realism and fascinating characters.
Oct 12, 2015 James rated it it was amazing
I've got to say that I don't usually read books that could be described as this one is in the Goodreads "Description"! That is, one with as much violence--murders, massacres, rapes, etc. BUT, as hackneyed as it sounds, I could not put it down. I can't totally explain why, except to say that the writing is so amazing you don't want to miss any of it. And my burgeoning interest in translated fiction in general is part of it too. The fact that it won the major translation award recently supports my ...more
Missy J
Nov 26, 2016 Missy J rated it really liked it

Beauty is a Wound is the debut novel of Eka Kurniawan, which was originally published in 2002. This is the second time for me to read a work by Kurniawan (earlier this year I read Lelaki Harimau also known as Man Tiger and it is one of my favorite books). Compared to Man Tiger, Beauty is a Wound is a grand and quite over-ambitious satire. With the historic backdrop stretching across the end of Dutch colonialism of the Indies to the end of the 20th century, Kurniawan tells the story of an Ind
Dec 08, 2015 Alvina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sama mbuletnya kayak novel 100 tahun kesunyian. Sama suramnya. Sama memusingkannya.


Ini kisah yang rumit. Sudah lama saya mendengar nama Eka Kurniawan ketika sedang mengobrol dengan teman teman blogger buku atau sekadar melihat buku barunya di timeline. Terlebih setelah bukunya memenangkan anugerah sastra dan banyak review positif mengenainya.

Ketika masih dalam tahap mencoba aplikasi IJak, saya langsung meminjam buku ini. Penasaran tingkat dewa.

Kesan saya? Ouch, buku ini
Jan 19, 2016 Monique rated it liked it
This book was epic. It was full of violence, rape, mass murder, incest, bestiality and brutality. The narrative spans over many generations of the one family and isn't always linear. I loved this about the book - the complex family trees, the magic realism, the twists and surprises in the plot... right from the very first line I was sucked in to what is essentially a ghost story:

"One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years."

The combina
Nov 24, 2007 Windry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, indonesian
(sebenarnya 2.8)

kekuatannya ada di kandungan sejarah membaur dengan cerita ... sisanya, ini bukan buku untuk manusia lugu macam saya (heran, ngomongin seks melulu) dan keknya buku ini seharusnya bisa lebih tipis :D
Sep 30, 2015 A rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
3.5 stars. Impressively ambitious in its scope, especially considering Kurniawan was just 26 when this was originally published (in early 2002). By comparison, Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez were both 40 when their generation-spanning fabulist masterpieces first appeared on shelves.

I bring up Garcia Marquez and Allende not arbitrarily but because magical realism (whatever that means anymore!) is unquestionably the main influence on Kurniawan's 470pp charmer (as you no doubt realized f
Feb 12, 2016 Huda rated it liked it

Let me get this straight: Beauty is a wound, because it fosters ill-will and causes chaos among men?

Because men are such animals?

What I don’t want to do is look at this story with the eyes of a haughty modernist, because this is meant to be an epic, and anyway its universe is not set in the rules of logic.

But mannnnnnnnn, what is with all the zoophilia and raping and all the ‘making love’ and all those lol-worthy ghosts, and I cannot even be done with listing all the depravities in this book.
Sharulnizam Mohamed Yusof
Cantik Itu Luka saya beli ketika Pesta Buku Kuala Lumpur yang lepas. Diterbitkan semula oleh Dubook Press. Dan saya hanya membacanya ketika mahu ke Pesta Buku Indonesia di Jakarta.

Bagaimana ya, mahu saya ulas buku yang sudah diterjemah kepada 24 bahasa di seluruh dunia ini?

1) Buku ini gabungan kisah mistik, sejarah, falsafah perjuangan dan juga erotis. Mistik pada peringkat permulaan dan penghujung. Mengimbas sejarah dan diselitkan falsafah perjuangan (komunis) untuk mengukuhkan jalan cerita. Er
Vanda Kemala
Sep 12, 2015 Vanda Kemala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sebelumnya, maafkan kata-kata saya, tapi buku ini edan!

Edan alurnya.
Edan detail cerita penokohannya.
Edan ide ceritanya.
Edan bikin settingnya.
Semuanya! Dan bikin stres nan gemes sendiri pas baca.

Menyelipkan sedikit cerita masa-masa komunis merajai Indonesia, seakan menunjukkan secara halus kiprah mereka pada masanya. Juga runtuhnya mereka karena (katanya) dianggap melakukan kudeta.

Lima bintang bisa aja, andai nggak ditemukan beberapa kesalahan penulisan semacam "memperhatikan", yang seharusnya "m
Apr 11, 2015 Pattrycia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tragically beautiful. Buku ini tak hanya bercerita tentang Si Cantik, namun tentang semua orang yang dikenal oleh Dewi Ayu (Ibu Si Cantik) semasa hidupnya. Membaca buku ini seperti membaca sebuah kisah yang tak kunjung ada habisnya. Serasa seperti membaca 10 buku lainnya, saya pun kerap dibuat lupa akan kejadian2 yang telah terjadi di dalamnya. Dan pada akhirnya, sebagaimana cinta Alamanda berhasil menyelamatkan nyawa Kliwon, cinta yang menimbulkan rasa dendam yang menyebabkan keempat putri Dewi ...more
This was an unexpectedly good book. Interesting, riveting, surprising, and by the end, all consuming. I listened to this on audible because at this time of the year, reading time is a premium. Simply put, I loved it and Jonathan Davis did a very fine job at narration. Not sure what I was anticipating, but this book took hold of me and would not let go. I would go so far as to call it epic. Part folklore, part Indonesian history, part magical realism, part allegory, part (fictional) memoir, it ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Zulwaqarakram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pertamanya, aku lebih suka cover buku lagi satu. Bukan yang ini.

Selalu tersasul menyebut Cinta itu luka. Mungkin ia bawa isi yang sama. Heh. Cantik itu luka dipenuhi dengan perempuan-perempuan yang dingin. Dicerita dari zaman inggeris menetap di Halimunda, penyerangan dan penaklukan dari Jepun, sekejap dihenyak komunis sehinggalah Halimunda menjadi tempat perlancongan yang terkenal.

Halimunda diceritakan sebagai satu tempat yang dipenuhi dengan hantu-hantu yang sedih, lagenda seorang puteri berk
Michael Livingston
Aug 21, 2016 Michael Livingston rated it it was ok
I found this a real slog - I'm not a massive fan of the sprawling Marquez-esque approach to story-telling, and this is firmly in that vein, complete with ghosts, bullet proof men and more from the magic-realism playbook. An interconnected web of characters in an Indonesian city live, marry and die with 20th Century Indonesian history as a backdrop. I also found myself exhausted by the abuse of the (always young and beautiful) women in the story by the (always old and tough) men - there are ...more
Zharif Zainuddin
Sebuah buku yang sarat dengan tema-tema yang pelbagai: sejarah, sosial, nasionalisme, kekeluargaan, feminisme, mistik, name it. Namun ia juga bukanlah untuk mereka yang moralis kerana novel ini tanpa segan-silu membicarakan soal pelacuran dan seks yang menjadi legasi sistem patriarki dalam sesebuah masyarakat.

Watak Kamerad Kliwon sangat kuat dalam novel ini sehingga membayangi watak-watak lain termasuk watak utamanya: Dewi Ayu. Kehidupannya memberi impak dalam keluarga besar Dewi Ayu
Oct 04, 2015 Bookworm rated it it was ok
Maybe I might have liked this better if I had more knowledge on Indonesia? When I heard about this book, I was intrigued about reading a book that takes place at a very tumultuous time in Indonesian history (from pre-World War II though its independence plus the aftermath). It sounded like a grand epic that would be perfect for a weekend of reading and initially I was drawn into the book.

The book starts off with the famous, beautiful prostitute Dewi Ayu rising from the dead. Well, okay! What a w
Nov 26, 2014 Sutresna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Pasti penulisnya sabar banget nulis dengan rinci segala ceritanya yang saling nyambung-nyambung gini sebanyak hampir 500 halaman.

Cerita diawali dengan keabsurdan luar biasa dengan membangkitkan orang mati dari dalam kuburnya! Gila! Surealis abis!

Tiap bab yang kira2 terdiri dari 25 halaman lebih, yang meskipun panjang, tapi gak bikin bosen. Mungkin ini efek si penulis ngambil satu tokoh penting yang bakal dia ceritain tiap bab dengan detil.

Nama tiap tokoh seperti diperhitungkan masak-mas
Ursula Florene
Feb 13, 2016 Ursula Florene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satu-satunya masalah dari buku ini adalah, dia tidak dihias cover yang menarik. Untuk cerita sekuat dan semenarik ini, seharusnya ada sampul lain yang lebih menarik mata para pembaca tipe judge a book by it's cover semacam saya.

Dari sekian banyak ulasan buku ini yang iseng aya baca, sebagian orang mengeluhkan masalah cerita yang terlalu vulgar, padahal menurut saya justru pada kevulgaran itu lah letak intrik dan permasalahan novel ini. Siapa yang tidak tahu megenai birahi menggebu para tenta
May 14, 2015 Rizky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, setelah berhari-hari berusaha menamatkan buku ini akhirnya 498 halaman berhasil juga kuselesaikan. Bukan karena buku ini tidak bagus, tetapi saking bagusnya aku perlu meresapi kata demi kata cerita ini. Jujur aku takjub dengan begitu banyaknya tokoh dalam kisah ini, tidak hanya membahas mengenai "Si Cantik" saja, tetapi kurasa hampir semua orang dalam kampung si Cantik ada dalam buku ini. Dan itu semua tidak sia-sia, penulis mampu membuatku terhipnotis untuk terus membaca dan membaca.

Moby F.
Mar 15, 2013 Moby F. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Novel yang aneh dan gila. (mengucap panjang)
Aku tak gemar sangat baca benda-benda berkait hal perang, pemberontakkan, komunisme apatah lagi hal pelacuran tapi jalan cerita buku ini disusun sungguh rapi dan teratur menjadikan ia satu bacaan yang tidak membosankan. Penulis sangat pandai mengolah setiap watak sehingga setiap watak dan karakter dibuku ini sama penting dengan Dewi Ayu. Dari kisah Maman Gendeng ke Sang Sodancho terus ke Kamerad Kliwon juga perihal anak-anak Dewi Ayu sendiri malah sehi
Evi Rezeki
Satu kata buat novel ini: Keren!

Saya suka bagaimana Eka bermain-main mitologi dan tokoh-tokohnya merupakan simbol golongan di masyarakat Indonesia bahkan dunia.

Saya suka bagaimana Eka meramu adegan-adegan romantis yang berani. Chemistry antar tokoh dapet banget! Saya suka bagaimana Eka menjalin sejarah dan membuat saya melihatnya sebagai miniatur sebuah negara.

Dari semua tokoh-tokoh novel ini, saya paling suka Dewi Ayu, Alamanda, Kamerad Kliwon, dan Nurul Aini :)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Quirky Reads | Bo...: Cantik Itu Luka | Eka Kurniawan 4 51 Apr 09, 2016 06:18AM  
The Mookse and th...: 2016 Longlist: Beauty Is a Wound 1 11 Mar 29, 2016 07:19AM  
Play Book Tag: Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan - 4 stars 9 24 Jan 31, 2016 04:56PM  
  • Arok Dedes
  • Entrok
  • Pulang
  • Burung-Burung Manyar
  • Amba
  • Gadis Kretek
  • Ziarah: Sebuah Novel
  • Atheis
  • Kitab Omong Kosong
  • Jalan Tak Ada Ujung
  • Anak Bajang Menggiring Angin
  • Raden Mandasia si Pencuri Daging Sapi
  • Olenka
  • Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk
Eka Kurniawan was born in Tasikmalaya in 1975 and completed his studies in the Faculty of Philosophy at Gadjah Mada University. He has been described as the “brightest meteorite” in Indonesia’s new literary firmament, the author of two remarkable novels which have brought comparisons to Salman Rushdie, Gabriel García Márquez and Mark Twain; the English translations of these novels were both ...more
More about Eka Kurniawan...

Share This Book

“Communism was born from a beautiful dream, the likes of which there will never be again on the face of this earth: that there would no longer be lazy men who eat their fill while others work hard and starve.” 7 likes
“Semua perempuan itu pelacur, sebab seorang istri baik-baik pun menjual kemaluannya demi mas kawin dan uang belanja, atau cinta jika itu ada.” 6 likes
More quotes…