Love, Lies And Indomee by Nuril Basri

 

Admittedly, I picked up this novel hoping for a light and entertaining read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Originally titled Enak and written in Bahasa Indonesia, Love, Lies And Indomee was translated into English recently. Set in Indonesia, the novel addresses the issues of modern romance, marriage and gender roles via the love life of fiesty female protagonist, Ratu. Ratu is a character that most women today can relate to - She is clever, gainfully employed and financially independent, and lives on her own. Yet, she is insecure about her looks (specifically, her size) and the fact that she does not have a boyfriend. In an attempt to get her parents off her back, she resorts to looking for a fake boyfriend on Facebook. Initially taken in by his good looks, she realises that her fake boyfriend, Hans is a freeloader. Against all odds, the pair fall in love, but complications arise when the pair cannot be together and Ratu agrees to an arranged marriage on impulse.

While there are many somewhat dramatic and cheesy twists and turns in the plot, I find myself unable to put the book down. This is, in part, because of the relatable nature of the female protagonist’s character, which helps to anchor the novel. For me, it is also refreshing that the story is set close to home whereas most similar stories about love and coming of age are typically viewed from a Western perspective. The novel also addresses the issue of arranged marriage, which is typically seen as a negative social phenomenon, but is shown to somehow work out in the end in this novel. I do wonder how the story would read in the original Bahasa Indonesia and if anything was lost in translation. (For example, the translator commented in his notes that in the original Bahasa Indonesia version, the first-person pronoun, saya and the second-person pronoun, anda were used. To signify growing intimacy between the characters, the casual aku and kamu later replaced them. He revealed that he eventually solved this problem by having the characters address each other as Mr and Ms.) It is best to dive straight into the novel and enjoy it for all its drama, while pondering about the thought-provoking issues it addresses along the way.

by Dawn Tan

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