The moment that I read the summery for The Rainbow Troops on Netgalley, I knew that I just had to request a review copy of this one. And why not? Since its publication in 2004, The Rainbow Troops has gone on to be the highest selling Indonesian novel of all time, which I think is an absolutely fantastic achievement. Now, in 2013 an English translation is available for the first time, meaning that readers like me now have access to this book for the first time.
The Rainbow Troops tells the story of a group of ten children, all from impoverished backgrounds who attend a small local school. Corrupt officials want to close the school down, but the children and their dedicated teacher Bu Mas who is just fifteen years old when the novel opens, triumph on. Each child has their own talents and story and it is surprising where each of them, particularly the brilliant Lintang end up in later life. The novel is somewhat based on the personal experiences of the author and explores the limited education and options that are available in parts of Indonesia for those with little or no money. I cannot say that I loved this one nearly as much as I would have liked to but it certainly offers an inside view of a country that is not so far from Australia.
PS Adelaide and Australian readers may be interested to know that Andrea Hirata will be one of the guests at Adelaide Writers' Week in March. Click here for more details.
Review Copy: Netgalley.