lunes, 24 de febrero de 2014

Black Sun, Red Moon

During the last throes of the Second World War, the Japanese are reluctant to leave Indonesia, which they rule from 1942. Thus, in this novel we’ll witness the struggle for independence of other forces. Both, the Japanese and the Dutch, are undesirable settlers for many of the natives. 

Most of the Dutch were sent to internment camps, but some families had agreed to co-operate with the Japanese. That's how they could keep their houses. Kate van Dam and her family are in the group of the lucky ones until their accord with the invaders gets dissolved. Once at the camp, we’ll get to know thoroughly the daily routine of the internees. Kate’s life will surprisingly be interwoven with that of the Japanese official Kenichi Ota, a kamikaze who will be saved from an already defined fate due to the capitulation of Japan. 

I like the way the author takes us back to Kate’s childhood, there in the Dutch Java. It’s also nice being able to attend the girls’ confidences and longings. Also, the conversations between Ota and his colleague Nagumo (very well-argued and consistent) achieve their aim of exposing their vision on the situation: how they do before and after the capitulation, how Japan's surrender causes some consequences.

We already know History and its facts, but the way it was lived is not always something clear. Dutch colonialism is exposed from different points of view: settlers, for whom the Indies are their home, the colonized and, also, the occupants during the war. It's interesting being present at the end of the war through their eyes.

At that point everyone wants their part (the Dutch, the Communists, the Chinese, also the Japs…) and decisions are being made about giving freedom to Indonesia or not. We'll enter the offices and other more official places, and meet some personalities. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the British statesman to restore order after capitulation, will appear. But also Sukarno, the Javanese leader, backed by the Japanese, and Dr Mohammed Hatta, from Sumatra, both straining to declare the independent Republic of Indonesia.

The rebels’ perspective is represented in the person of Lamban, who is learning to become an ancient fighting arts master. He wants to work for Sukarno and the National Party and will be invited to become a Black Buffalo.

Rory Marron has made a big research on History, languages, sacred rituals, tradition... Almost at the end of the book a new character will appear: Meg Graham, an American war correspondent which is going to show the point of view of the Americans. This is evidently introducing us to the second part of the story, the novel titled Merdeka Rising.