The Rainbow Troops

This a bestselling novel from Indonesia offers a first-hand insight into life as a child growing up on one of Indonesia’s many remote islands. Seen through the prism of a small Islamic school struggling to survive against the odds, it paints a vivid portrait of the daily struggles of some of the poorest sections of Indonesian society.

Part auto-biography, part fable with a touch of magic realism, it follows the adventures of Ikal and his friends as they fight to keep their school open and, in the process, learn about life’s loves and losses. Through the trials of the various school children it evokes the racial, religious and social tensions that simmer in a small rural community marked by vast differences in wealth and power, and is a powerful testament to the importance of education in being able to transform people’s lives.

Set during the Soeharto era marked by widespread corruption and exploitation, it would be interesting to learn how much has changed in the interim and to what extent the likes of Ikal and his classmates still face the same challenges. Not a literary book by any means, it is easy to read, enjoyable and enlightening.

Guest Blogger: Simon, Co-op Member since 2010.

The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata was released January 2013.


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