"An autobiography that gives an in-depth portrayal of one life, with both its idiosyncrasies and its reflection of the culture from which the individual comes - all from the insider's perspective. Riska: Memoirs of a Dayak Girlhood represents the first published account of a Dayak woman's life -- and successfully seduces readers, unfamiliar with life in Borneo, along an intimate path that introduces them to some of the wonders of life in that forest land."-- Anthropologist Carol J. Pierce Colfer, from her afterword.
Books by Western Specialists tell us that the "headhunters of Borneo" excel in certain arts, make the best blow darts in the world and practice a religion that still involves offerings to the gods. But the culture has never before been described from the inside, by an indigenous person born and raised in the rain forest listening to the stories and legends of her tribe. In this vivid and charming memoir, Riska Orpa Sari tells us about the remote village of her birth, where rice is cultivated by cutting and burning the rain forest, where hunting and gathering take place under its dark canopy. She describes courtship and marriage, funeral rites, the sound headhunters make before they strike, the impact of the logging industry on the Dayak way of life, and the centrality of the river to all aspects of daily living. As Riska's marvelous story unfolds, a witty, intelligent personality is revealed, endearing, resilient, and dedicated to the preservation of her people.
Placing Riska's story in context for Western readers is Linda Spalding, who tells in her lively introduction of first meeting Riska in Borneo while doing research for her own book, TheFollow. Sure that it would be fascinating, she encouraged Riska to write the story of her life, and then undertook to edit the results. Carol J. Pierce Colfer, an American anthropologist with experience living among the forest peoples of Indonesia, comments on Riska's narrative in an afterword.