Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Probably The Only Indonesian Ever to Read "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh"

A guy whom I befriended with in goodreads recently sent me an online message. He noticed that I had just finished reading this novel by Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Apparently, this guy works in a local publishing company. He said that his company wants to translate said novel into Bahasa and subsequently publish it in this country. He also asked me whether I have time to read their translated draft and give comment.

Remembering how I keep breaking promises, even the ones I made myself for my own good, I simply refused. But I gave him a very different reason. I told this guy, that I can’t imagine this novel being published in Indonesia. Not because it dealt with certain issues like the Jewish mob organization or homosexuality among young men (hey, we’ve seen and read enough about them already!), but because it’s probably going to be “religion-sensitive” case.

You see, one of the novel’s supporting characters is an Arab guy who happens to be a quite flamboyant homosexual. I don’t care what Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad said, but different sexual preference is not race-exclusive. What I found most unsettling about this character that might wreak havoc and cause storm of protests among many Indonesians, is because this Arab gay guy’s name is Mohammed – quite similar with the name of Islam's highest prophet.

Even though I have to honestly admit, that if readers set the Arab gay guy issue aside, this novel may make a good read. It has romance (though more about confused love interests between male-male-female), a little bit of action (a chasing scene involving a police helicopter), talks about the search for personal identity and coming-of-age, intimate feelings (losing the one you loved most), and tragic death. To make it short, a complete novel.

Somehow, I found it quite a relief that probably, I’m the only Indonesian who ever read this novel.

Images were taken from various sources, depicting scenes in the movie adaptation of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh".

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