Wednesday 9 February 2011

Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw

Reading this book made me realise just how much 'easy' reading I've been doing lately. Map of the Invisible World is about Indonesia in the '60s, a country I know next to nothing about, so it was very interesting from that point of view, as well as for the actual story. It's a book that requires concentration, and I found it really rewarding to read.

The storyline focuses on Adam, an orphan, who has been adopted by Karl, and Indonesian born Dutch man. At the beginning of the novel, Karl is seized by the polic, and taken away to be 'repatriated'. The basic focus of the novel is on Adam's struggle to find Karl, and the people that he meets while doing this. It is a reflection of the struggles within Indonesia, told with a combination of the naivety of Adam, a teenager who is still very innocent, the experience of the country from the point of view of an American, who has lived there for years, a girl who wants to make a difference, and the anguish of a Sumatran extremist.

According to the blurb, the novel is about the seperation of Adam from his brother, Johan, as a child. In actualilty, Johan only seems to appear in order to lend more depth and understanding to Adam's story. His struggle to come to terms with his past and identity, mirror the struggles within the country, to assert itself, and for me, this made the novel very beautiful and poignant to read.

Map of the Invisible World was both beautifully written, intensely engaging, and hugely informative. It reminded me that my cognitive faculties are alive and well, and for this I'm very grateful!

Rating: ****


  1. I always love reading about the books you choose. I like the title of this one, and like you I don't know anything about 1960s Indonesia. It's gone on my wishlist.

  2. I actually know a fair bit about Indonesia (but only because I live in the country next door), but I've been waffling over whether or not I ought to put this on my to-read list, because lot of the reviews I've seen have been relatively negative. It's been really helpful to see a review from a positive perspective! Thanks!