All That Is Gone


Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s transcendent novels have become part of the world literary canon, but it is his short fiction that originally made him famous. The first full-size collection of his short stories to appear in English, All That Is Gone draws from the author’s own experiences in Indonesia to depict characters trying to make sense of a war-torn culture haunted by colonialism, among them an eight-year-old girl soon to be married off by her parents for money and an idealistic young soldier who witnesses the ...

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Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s transcendent novels have become part of the world literary canon, but it is his short fiction that originally made him famous. The first full-size collection of his short stories to appear in English, All That Is Gone draws from the author’s own experiences in Indonesia to depict characters trying to make sense of a war-torn culture haunted by colonialism, among them an eight-year-old girl soon to be married off by her parents for money and an idealistic young soldier who witnesses the savage beating of a man accused of being a spy. Though violence and brutality pervade these tales, there is present throughout a profound sense of compassion—an extraordinary combination of despair and hope that gives All That Is Gone rare power and beauty.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Toer is] so great that we instantly feel we’ve known him—and he us—all our lives." —USA Today

"Simply, elegantly traces an emerging political consciousness... The writing flows as if in real time." —Los Angeles Times Book Review

San Francisco Chronicle
If, you come to this writer's work for sociological reasons, I believe you'll stay, for the wonder of his art.
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
A writer of wisdom, humanity, and great storytelling ability.
The New Yorker
In the last story of this collection from Indonesia’s preëminent writer, the author himself makes a short appearance, stricken with self-doubt and grieved by the evil events he recounts. But he reminds himself, “You must be willing to tell stories about the loss of hope.” A sense of duty is perhaps natural for a writer who spent nearly two decades as a political prisoner under three different regimes. But the striking achievement of these stories is an unshakable innocence of voice and a willingness to leave judgment to the reader. Pramoedya’s art is made more of sadness than of anger, and he is particularly adept at narrating from a child’s perspective—as when a six-year-old boy sees his best friend, a girl of eight, married off, beaten by her husband, and, after she flees, made a social outcast.
Publishers Weekly
In these early stories, many appearing in English for the first time, one of Indonesia's leading writers illuminates with a quiet ferocity some of the most turbulent years in his nation's history. Often told through a child's observant eyes, the eight stories-which draw on the author's own upbringing in East Java during Dutch colonial rule, Japanese invasion and bloody periods of independence and civil war-are written in a warm, lyrical style that gives way to sudden pools of sadness. In the title story, the narrator evokes a dreamlike childhood along the banks of the Lusi River, but also tells matter-of-factly of a beloved servant who contracts syphilis and is abruptly dismissed for stealing. "Revenge" tells of the "bullet fever" of the independence years, as undertrained, undersupplied young nationalists are set loose on enemies near and far. "Independence Day" is also a cautionary war tale, featuring a young man maimed and blinded in combat and pitied by his family. In "Acceptance," a novella-length work, sisters and brothers take up arms for opposing political movements while their once-prosperous home disintegrates. Pramoedya, as he is called, is best known for his Buru Quartet, a cycle of novels set in the dying days of Dutch rule, and recent books such as The Girl from the Coast. These stories, though smaller in scope, show the nascent political consciousness that flowered in later novels and led to the author's long-time imprisonment under the Suharto regime. Samuels ably translates Pramoedya's informal storytelling, and his introductory note gives a useful overview of the author's long career. (Feb. 2) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This book marks the first time that Pramoedya's short fiction has become widely available to English readers. All but one story was drawn from Stories from Blora, an anthology of the author's early short works. Semiautobiographical in nature, these tales are set in Indonesia (Pramoedya's homeland) prior to and during the country's painful struggle to gain independence, first from Japan and then from the Netherlands. Especially notable are "All That Is Gone," "Circumcision," "Revenge," and "Acceptance," all of which portray youthful attempts to grapple with adult themes: sex, death, marriage, divorce, nationalism, and war. Whether narrated by an innocent child or by a young adult, all of these stories aptly capture the rich oral legacy of Indonesia; they demonstrate why Pramoedya has gained such prominence in contemporary world literature. Readers who enjoy this collection should seek out Pramoedya's longer works available in English: The Fugitive, The Girl from the Coast, The Mute's Soliloquy, and The Buru Quartet. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Eight stories by celebrated Indonesian novelist Toer (The Girl From the Coast, 2002, etc.), most of them fictionalized memoirs of his childhood and youth. Born in 1925, the son of a nationalist schoolmaster in East Java, the author grew up in a home that was a center of the nascent anticolonialist movement. The characters here, very obviously modeled closely on his relatives and himself, are educated, provincial Indonesians who move somewhat awkwardly between, on the one hand, the traditions of Islam and village life and, on the other, the modern consciousness that underlay the development of Indonesian nationalism. The title story features a young boy's impressionistic recollections of his childhood home: his schoolmaster father participates in the nationalist movement and is often away for long periods of time; his long-suffering and devout Muslim mother suffers from her husband's neglect but endures nonetheless. "In Twilight Born" continues the saga, describing the turmoil that is wrought when a local teacher makes his home into a center of anticolonial activity and nearly has his school shut down by the authorities in consequence. "Circumcision" offers an unusually nostalgic view of Islam from the perspective of an 11-year-old boy who recalls his circumcision and the celebrations that followed. "Inem" counters with a sad account of a poor servant girl forced into an arranged marriage at the age of eight. Family life is Toer's dominant theme here, but he can turn his attention outward as well. "Revenge" depicts a young private in the nationalist forces who must look the other way when he witnesses one of his officers torturing a captured soldier, and "Independence Day" portrays thequiet shame of a blind and crippled hero of the war of independence who comes to resent being looked after by his wealthy family. A fine collection that manages to re-create a distant and exotic world, from a writer who deserves to be better known in this country.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143034469
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,556,825
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.88 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, born on the island of Java in 1925, was imprisoned first by the Dutch, then by the Indonesian government as a political prisoner. He received the PEN Freedom to Write Award and the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

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Table of Contents

All That Is GonePreface

All That Is Gone
In Twilight Born
Independence Day
The Rewards Of Marriage

Translator's Note

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