As much a story of the struggle for personal as well as political freedom, this remarkable book, written in 1947, is a...

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THE FUGITIVE

As much a story of the struggle for personal as well as political freedom, this remarkable book, written in 1947, is a welcome recognition of Indonesian writer Pramoedya's considerable talent. Set in Japanese-occupied Java--the pre-independence name of Indonesia--Hardo, the fugitive of the title, is hiding from the Japanese. Though an officer in the army, Hardo and his friends at first welcomed the Japanese invasion as a means of winning Indonesian independence from the Dutch, but the Japanese occupation turned out to be brutal and rapacious. A failed revolt by Hardo and a fellow officer leads to their flight into the countryside, where they hide, disguised as beggars. Hardo believes that a third member of the conspiracy--Karmin--still serving the Japanese, betrayed them. On a visit to his old home, Hardo meets his fiancÉe's father, who begs him to spend the night, but he refuses, and stays instead in an old but where his own father suddenly appears. Not revealing his identity to his father, Hardo learns of his mother's death from grief, and of his father's plight. Stripped of his local offices by the Japanese in retaliation for Hardo's role, the father--mourning both his son and wife--can find release--freedom--only in gambling. Their discussion of freedom political and personal is interrupted by a Japanese search-party. Hardo has been betrayed by his fiancÉe's father. He is eventually captured, and finally confronts Karmin, who proves to be innocent; but as the Japanese commander is about to execute him, he is saved by the news of Japan's surrender. The country will be independent at last. Pramoedya is one of those rare writers who can let a story--well-told and moving--make profound observations about politics and the meaning of life without sounding didactic or tiresomely polemical. A notable accomplishment.

Pub Date: March 30, 1990

ISBN: 0140296522

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990