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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,652 ratings  ·  1,041 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 12th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

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

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,652 ratings  ·  1,041 reviews

Sort order
Feb 07, 2016 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
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating Allegorical Tale of Indonesia f/k/a Dutch East Indies
If you like tales of political/social allegory, such as Animal Farm and One Hundred Years of Solitude, that exercise your brain, without overly challenging 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 reflects and criticize
Kevin Ansbro
"One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years."

Now that's the kind of beginning that will grab my attention!
If you like the magical realism of Márquez (as I do), then this could be your cup of Colombian coffee - although it's set in Indonesia (the 'Colombian coffee' bit was my play on words ... cup of tea, Márquez being from Colombia ... oh, forget it).

Dewi Ayu, village prostitute and misanthrope gives birth to a hideous little baby an
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This falls somewhere between a 2.5 and a 3.5. When I first started it I thought I was going to love it. It had many shades of One Hundred Years of Solitude. There were many things I did really like. The historical backdrop of Indonesia was fascinating and I ended up googling lots of things to learn more about the history. A lot of this book is political satire which never really works for me. I found some of the characters to be fascinating and I loved their stories but in the end there was far ...more
Missy J

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
Morana Mazor
Mar 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rijetko se meni dogodi da odustanem od knjige i ne pročitam je do kraja jer si već nekako znam procijeniti što bi mi se svidjelo, a što ne bi... Ali, u ovom sam se slučaju grdno prevarila (događa se i najboljima.. ;) )..
Isto tako, želja da pišem osvrt i da svima pričam o nekoj knjizi najčešće me uhvati kada me neka knjiga oduševi.. Ove druge eventualno spomenem, u nekoj raspravi ili, ako me netko baš upita za mišljenje o određenoj knjizi koja meni, eto, nije sjela... Ali, ovaj put ću vam baš na
Jul 26, 2015 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
I. Mónica del P Pinzon Verano
3,5 estrellas

Una lectura que tenía que hacer con urgencia. No recuerdo cómo me llegó este título del cual ni siquiera hice el intento de desprenderme. “La Belleza es una Herida” para mi es de los títulos más seductores que he podido encontrar para una novela. Sentí que era un asunto prioritario leerla, y más cuando su autor Eka Kurniawan es de Indonesia, un país lejano y cuya literatura es territorio virgen para mí. Desde luego, también estaba el tema del género “realismo mágico”, más cuando ha
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, translation
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
Roger Brunyate
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Indonesian History as Fact and Fable

"One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years." Not your usual opening for a novel, is it? Dewi Ayu, formerly the most sought-after prostitute in the district of Halimunda, walks back to her house, takes a bath, and is reunited with her daughter Beauty, who she had prayed would be born ugly—as indeed she most certainly was. After a few dozen pages, the action slips back in time to Dewi Ayu's childhood,
Viv JM
DNF @ 40%

This is a very rapey book and I really don't want to continue any further, specifically after a scene where a woman, after being gang raped on multiple occasions, is then consumed by lust for her "rescuer". No. Just no. I get that this book is satirical and allegorical and symbolic, but still. The author doesn't graphically describe the rape scenes but there are just so many and I am really not convinced that they are necessary to the plot. It's a shame, because I really liked the begin
Sep 26, 2015 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.
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 wa ...more
Sep 12, 2015 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
Bên Phía Nhà Z
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
dài kinh :'( đồ sộ kiểu sử thi bao trùm lịch sử Indo qua lịch sử gia đình âm hưởng nữ quyền rần rần xong lại còn ma mị huyền ảo cứ như trăm năm cô đơn nhưng mà cái kiểu kể tồng tộc đọc nhiều khi chán.

nói chung là khủng khiếp, toàn hiếp là hiếp :'(
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ε Π Ο Σ!
Joachim Stoop
Jun 16, 2015 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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"eletto libro dell'anno dalle più prestigiose testate internazionali": certo, quelle del pianeta dove un anno dura tre picosecondi, o dove gli altri libri in concorso erano quelli di coelho.
E. H. Nathasia
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have NO choice but to give it a 5. There is probably less than 3% of pages where I rush through my reading, but 97% of the plot and its characters intrigues me. The plot is ridiculous to the point that I have to close my book many, many times for me to take a breather, to take it all in before continuing with my reading. You really need to understand the mysticism of the culture and to be open to all possibilities before you read this. Otherwise you might not be able to accept what the writer ...more
Dec 05, 2015 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
I first learned of this novel from the BTBA (Best Translated Book Award) Fiction long list for 2016. I bought it because it is a fictional account of Indonesian history and because I liked the title. It was the last book I read in 2016. Filled with wild and crazy characters, featuring colonial oppression and the rape of natural resources and as well as a mixed race descendant of a Dutch East India Company trader, it covers war, communism, slaughter, rape, unstable politics, indigenous customs, ...more
Mar 04, 2013 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
" في عصر عطلة أسبوعية من مارس ، وبعد موتها بإحدي وعشرين سنة ، نهضت ديوي آيو من قبرها "
عندما تقرأ هذه الجملة في أول فصل من رواية اعلم أنك بصدد عالم واسع من الخيال والفانتازيا فلا توجد حدود للواقع أو المنطق ..
الرواية من أدب الواقعية السحرية المدمج بها أحداث تاريخية وسياسية لإندونيسيا عن طريق تمثيله في بلدة ساحلية تدعي هاليموندا فتجد نفسك تقرأ عن الاحتلال الهولندي والياباني وحرب العصابات ومأساة الشيوعيين في قصة عن الحب والكره والعهر والأشباح والسحر والانتقام ..
اقتربت كثيرا من رائعة ماركيز مائة يوم
Dec 03, 2015 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.
Pedro Casserly
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Indonesia es un país formado por un conjunto de islas, las más conocidas (en especial por los jugadores del TEG), Sumatra, Borneo y Java. En Java se encuentra Yakarta, la capital, y también Halimunda, donde trascurre la historia, una saga de una familia castigada por una maldición, llena de elementos mágicos. Las asociaciones con Cien años de soledad son obvias; si hasta hay una Rengganis la hermosa (en lugar de Remedios la bella). Pero La belleza es una herida es mucho más que una simple réplic ...more
Jan 03, 2016 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
Sep 30, 2015 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Is the translation bad? 2 42 Jun 08, 2017 06:34AM  
Quirky Reads | Bo...: Cantik Itu Luka | Eka Kurniawan 4 66 Apr 09, 2016 06:18AM  
The Mookse and th...: 2016 Longlist: Beauty Is a Wound 1 19 Mar 29, 2016 07:19AM  
Play Book Tag: Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan - 4 stars 9 32 Jan 31, 2016 04:56PM  
  • Raden Mandasia si Pencuri Daging Sapi
  • Olenka
  • Ziarah: Sebuah Novel
  • Entrok
  • House of Glass
  • Pulang
  • Burung-Burung Manyar
  • Gadis Kretek
  • Manjali dan Cakrabirawa
  • Atheis
  • Lintang Kemukus Dini Hari
  • Dawuk: Kisah Kelabu Dari Rumbuk Randu
  • Tarian Bumi
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 publis ...more
“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.” 21 likes
“Semua perempuan itu pelacur, sebab seorang istri baik-baik pun menjual kemaluannya demi mas kawin dan uang belanja, atau cinta jika itu ada.” 17 likes
More quotes…