There are all sorts of reasons to remember a book. Sometimes I remember a book for the location. This book is set in Indonesia, a land of volcanic islands, stunning beaches, and treacherous jungle. But the book takes place mostly in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capitol, where human geography is on display. Jakarta is a place of abject poverty and contained prosperity, of rich and poor living isolated from each other but right next to one another.
Sometimes I remember a book for it’s time, for the changes it depicts. This book is a story of a revolution, a a country torn between hatred of its imperialist past and trepidation at its possible Communist future. A country divided among itself, with ethnic and religious tensions always threatening to break out. The city is filled with people reacting to their time: a protest becomes a riot, and men and women who stumble are trodden to death. Military exercises take place in the street, a warning to anyone thinking of taking action.
But I think I will remember this book for the characters. The people of this book are haunted by each other’s ghosts, but memories of lost love. The Invisible world is the world that binds us together, the roads of love that lead us to each other. And the characters in this book are all people capable of loving and being loved. They are complicated, layered; what you see in the first chapter is not all of them.