Told in short, cinematic bursts, Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is gloriously pulpy. Ajo Kawir, a lower-class Javanese teenage boy excited about sex, likes to spy on fellow villagers in flagrante, but one night he ends up witnessing the savage rape of a beautiful crazy woman by two policemen. Deeply traumatized, he becomes impotent. His efforts to get his virility back all fail, and Ajo Kawir turns to fighting as a way to vent his frustrations. He gets such a fearsome reputation as a brawler that he is hired to kill a thug named The Tiger, but instead Ajo Kawir falls in love with Iteung, a gorgeous female bodyguard who works for the local mafia. Alas, the course of true love never did run smooth... Fast-forward a decade. Now a truck driver, Ajo Kawir has reached a new equanimity, thinking that his penis may be trying to teach him a lesson and even consulting it in many situations as if it were his guru--love may yet triumph.
Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash shows Eka Kurniawan in a gritty, comic, pungent mode that fans of Quentin Tarantino will appreciate. But even with its liberal peppering of fights, high-speed car chases, and ladies heaving with desire, the novel continues to explore Kurniawan's familiar themes of female agency in a violent male world dominated by petty criminals and a corrupt police state.
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Kurniawan tells the ribald, noir-inflected, and oddly epic story of a man's quest to regain his sexual virility...This is an almost unbelievably fun and weird novel.--Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
The physicality of his prose and his story is invigorating.-- (08/18/2017)
Political and profound, even though it uses language drawn from pulp fiction and popular movies. Kurniawan tells a story about injustice, the limits of revenge and the redemptive power of love.-- (08/01/2017)
A tragicomedy Indonesian thriller... By turns a soft porn flick, a manic road thriller and a martial arts movie... A blast of a book-- (07/13/2017)
A potent blend of grounded realism and flighty fantasy... a pulpy, visceral tale of sex, violence and comeuppance-- (07/13/2017)
Dark, sexually charged and subversive comedy...-- (05/31/2017)