Book Jacket

 

rank 2021
word count 11353
date submitted 04.12.2011
date updated 27.11.2013
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
classification: moderate
incomplete

Ramadan Sky

Nichola Hunter

Ramadan Sky has already been published by HarperCollns in e-book format and is available at amazon online stores and other e-book outlets.

 

Ramadan Sky began its journey on authonomy in November 2011, and was picked up by the authonomy team and published in September 2013. My great thanks to Rachel and the whole team. You can read the first four chapters here. I do not need a backing but you may want to purchase the book if you enjoy this sample.


He is snorkelling – waving his thin arms around in the inexpert way he did in Bali – but this time he is naked and asleep, eyes shut tight, crawling like a shrimp across the crisp linen. He chats away to her in a high-pitched voice, sometimes in English and sometimes in Indonesian. She wonders whether the conversations they have when he is awake make any more sense than those when he is asleep. And what the hell she is doing here with him in this inhospitable place. The morning call to prayer rings out as he suddenly opens his eyes to find her watching him. They begin their dance without speaking, desire rising and breaking like waves while the voice outside continues to proclaim the greatness of God.

 
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tags

indonesia, love, muslim, travel

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80 comments

 

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JD Revene wrote 826 days ago

From the One to Watch blog, here's what HC had to say:

"A few people have been talking about the novel that I've chosen as this week's One to Watch, so if you've not read it yet, it's time to see what the fuss is about:

Ramadan Sky by Victoria Hunter

Ramadan Sky is a literary novel set in Indonesia, an area rarely covered in literature. The story begins with a young boy of twelve being told that his father has died. Yet, despite this sad opening, there is a naivety and sweetness to the narrative that prevents the tone from feeling too heavy. As the narrative progresses, the boy, Fajar, grows up as the youngest son of a large family, and there are new challenges to contend with.

I was drawn to this manuscript because of the writing style, which is concise, and subtle, yet evocative and very readable. I was reminded of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – a personal favourite of mine. Within just a couple of paragraphs, Victoria establishes a subtle, but undeniably rich setting; we are also introduced to an intriguing dynamic, in the form of our protagonist Fajar’s relationship with his teacher, Dedi, which opens a window on Fajar’s own personality. "

AndrewStevens wrote 838 days ago

This is fabulous stuff, Victoria. I can see why JD is such a fan. Six stars and on my shelf.

The prose is just so smooth with a subtly lyrical, almost poetic feel to much of the phrasing and word choice. I lost count of the number of beautifully written, stunningly original turns of phrase and powerfully evocative descriptions. It really is a joy to read.

Although at times in the opening chapter, I did struggle to pin down the narrator’s precise age and, initially at least, even whether they were male or female, the tone of the narration as a whole is utterly convincing. I think it’s so difficult to reproduce a narrative delivered by someone who’s first language isn’t English but you seem to have managed this effortlessly. I’m still not sure whether this is Fajar narrating in English or simply a stylised translation from the Javanese but I don’t think this matters. For me, it’s the overall effect that’s important and at no point in the opening chapter did I doubt for an instant the authenticity of the narrative voice. Fantastic stuff.

The sense of place is subtly but persuasively evoked. It would be so easy to overdo the cultural references and spoil the overall effect. It’s the restraint with which you hint at the narrator’s environment that works so well. The detail is there but it’s always in the background, adding tremendous colour and depth without ever intruding on the narrative. I did, in the beginning, think this was a period piece (1950s? 1960s?) but the refs later on to McD and ganja make clear it’s set more recently. Not sure if this matters, tho?? The dialogue works well to flesh out the various characters as well as adding good energy to the scenes and reinforcing the cultural identity of the piece. Cleverly done.

To be honest, I have no idea where the story’s going (you don’t give much away in your blurb!!) but I’m perfectly willing to tag along for the ride!! It’s the quality of writing, I think, that makes or breaks a book of this type and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read anything better in the four years I’ve been an authonomy member. This is as close to flawless writing as it gets.

Best of luck with this, Victoria. You deserve every success. I’ll read on when I get a chance. Thanks. Andrew.



Observations made as I went along (please feel free to ignore!!):

I love the simplicity, almost vagueness of the description of the teacher’s room (eg ‘and a number of books’) Just right for the narrator’s age/emotional state.

‘shocked at so much hair and salt’ thrown slightly by this. I assume you’re referring to the teacher’s hairy fingers and the salty taste of skin?? maybe have her shocked by the size/roughness of the fingers and the taste of a stranger’s skin??

‘The blood drained quickly from my face’ – POV-wise this doesn’t feel quite right?? maybe just have her feeling light headed??

Love the image of the girl turning to wave but only seeing her teacher’s back. So sad and very real.

‘and tired with smoke’ – not sure if this works??

‘with my suitcase’ – this threw me. Unless I missed something, this is the first ref to her suitcase. Was the school a boarding school or does she normally take a suitcase to school. Either way, I think the reader needs a little more??

New para at ‘The truth is our house…’?? Otherwise (given the age of the narrator) it’s a very long para. Generally I think many of the paragraphs could be broken up into smaller mini paras??

‘Even now when I am telling the story…’ It’s at this point that I’m beginning to wonder precisely how old the narrator is. How long has passed since her father died? I’m assuming she’s still a child but I don’t know and the doubt is interfering with my read.

Her thoughts on the futility of life/inevitability of death are so sad and involving. Fabulous writing.

Terrific sense of place. The detail is subtly woven into the narrative. Cleverly done.

‘Children rose like ragged birds’ now I’m thinking the narrator is an adult??

‘a cold stone BOY…’ ah!! Again, unless I missed something, there’s no reference to the narrator’s sex before this point. I assumed the story was being told by a girl/woman (I’m not sure why?? The tone just felt more feminine than male?? I don’t mean this as a criticism, by the way. I can quite easily accept that the narrator is male and is simply recounting his time as a gentle, sensitive twelve-year-old) Maybe give some hint in the first couple of paras so readers don’t make the same mistake I did??

Love the image of the wives constantly spinning homes like spiders!!

Maybe hint at the precise age of the narrator (what’s his name, by the way?? maybe I missed it?? is it Fajar, as in the chapter title?? not clear to me or many readers I suspect that this is the narrator’s name??) You say that many years have passed since he was 12 but his hanging out with his friends at night, taking part in motorbike races etc suggest a teenager/very young man?? Maybe add his age for clarity??

‘Have an umbrella…etc’ love this!! little snippets like this provide real cultural depth to the narrative. Terrific stuff.

Not quite sure what to make of the boss squeezing Fajar’s balls!!?? Is he genuinely misguidedly checking for virginity or is he just a pervert?? Does Fajar know what’s going on??

‘…six weeks and no work, she came…’ – who’s ‘she’?? It’s clear it’s his fiancée later on but the initial confusion is unsettling??

‘a wave of fury’ – compared to all the other very original imagery/phrasing this felt rather clichéd??

Another very long para. Maybe break up??

Love the end to the chapter. Beautifully written and intriguing. Definitely makes me want to read on.

klouholmes wrote 855 days ago

Hi Victoria, This is so convincingly written from Fajar's POV in the first chapter. The details of his schooling and his job are done in a mesmerizing style, capturing the ambiance of his setting. Phrases like "children rose like ragged birds..." and what follows are evocative. The protagonist's struggle to obtain work that would please his girlfriend's mother is ensconced in the background setting. The paragraphs are long and might be split to make this even more readable. But I was drawn in and kept there by the narrative and its depiction of Jakarta. The synopsis is also intriguing with the expectation of further dimension in the story. Shelved - Katherine

M. A. McRae. wrote 842 days ago

I began reading this on the recommendation of JD Revene, and at first, thought it not my style at all. I have never liked narratives that jump from 1st person to different first person.
But. I liked this, then I liked it a great deal, and finally I see that it is a real and true message of the lives of men and women, and the hypocricy that allows a man to demand a virgin as a wife, but still feels himself free to have sex with another.
This is a very good story, and I think it will do very well indeed. Well done, Marj.

leelah wrote 847 days ago


This is art.
Yes -this is mesmerizing, as klouholmes says - and in a wonderful way. Reading the first chapter, I was transported to jamaica, which is foreign to me - but I was there.
I felt myself b r e a t h e while reading - it felt like sitting i n a mellow river, filled with smells from the landscape around. You have an uncanny talent for descriptions that burst with L I F E .
This is art.
"---they watched me together with 4 eyes and many claws waiting to pounce."
And:
"The beginning of change is a small laneway that opens like magic into a rice-field."
Some of your expressions are so "organic" that they are healing: the perception is so full, so precise, and I can take part of it and allowing myself to be healed by its fullness.
Did I mention that this is art?
toprated - watchlisted - waiting for a shelfspace
Leelah Saachi
"When fear comes home to love"
Leelah Saachi

Karen Eisenbrey wrote 137 days ago

Nichola,

Thanks for putting a few chapters of Ramadan Sky back up on Authonomy. I'm sorry I missed it the first time out -- very well done and easy to see why it was picked up for publication. I like the two distinct voices of the first-person narrators. They both give realistic but different views of a gritty, colorful setting, and I can see that their stories are going to collide in interesting way. I hope you have great success with this book!

Karen Eisenbrey
CRANE'S WAY
ENDURANCE
TIME SQUARED

Cyrus Hood wrote 276 days ago

Smart writing and an interesting and engaging style. The imagery is excellent and I can really taste the atmosphere- I thoroughly recommend this book to you all
regards
Mark

Nichola Hunter wrote 330 days ago

oh boy! how many did I say???? Thanks a million - I thought I said 99? I am going to check it right away and thanks....



Hi there.

Just a quick heads up, assuming no one else has mentioned it, but only 99 names of Allah have been mentioned in various Islamic texts, the rest not being revealed to mankind.


immaculatearab wrote 330 days ago

Hi there.

Just a quick heads up, assuming no one else has mentioned it, but only 99 names of Allah have been mentioned in various Islamic texts, the rest not being revealed to mankind.


Raymond Crane wrote 339 days ago

Hi , I FOUND YOUR FIRST CHAPTER rivetting in its realism. I do not know your background but I implor you to keep writing as you do, for a voice as strong as yours should be heard against all the pretentious snobbery of ,- London for example which some people prefer to this, the true story. goodluck and best wishes !

Amanuensis wrote 348 days ago

Classy stuff. Would buy.

Kevin Bergeron wrote 379 days ago

Great stuff. I very much enjoyed reading this. You do a great job getting into the mind of a young man. The voice and character of Fajar is extraordinarily well conceived and conveyed, and I absolutely believe it. I also liked the chapter told from Vic's pov. The preface indicates that some sort of a relationship will develop between these two, and I will surely buy and read the book when it comes out, because the first four chapters have me wanting to read more.

Sebnem wrote 380 days ago




Ramadan Sky-Nichola Hunter
Hi Nicola,
I've read all you have posted. This a well-writen story told in the first person by the two main characters. The first chapter is very gripping. The descriptions depict the atmosphere of Jakarta in a simple, yet quite a vivid style. The story is rather amusing. Yet, it is sad to witness how nations that practice the Islamic faith manipulate the principles of their religion to suit their ridiculous local customs. Congradulations, best wishes, Sebnem-The Child of Heaven
















Spilota wrote 384 days ago

Well done! I so enjoyed this and am delighted it's being properly published. Highly recommended reading.

elizabethbarone wrote 581 days ago

Wow.

RAMADAN SKY had me at the title -- the word "Ramadan" told me right away that the main characters are Islamic, and I have always been captivated by Islam -- then the excerpt stole me, and then the first chapter blew me away. Hunter has a real knack for description and a talent for using words in a unique way to say normal things.

I love what I've read so far and will definitely be reading more.

Helianthus wrote 581 days ago

This is so beautiful I don't even know what to say. When I realized I was on the last chapter, I kept finding excuses to quit reading. I didn't want it to be over so soon.

ShirleyGrace wrote 583 days ago

Victoria:
I read two chapters and your style is wonderful and original. I felt as though I was there with the boy and could feel what he was going through. I know that only touches in on the story but for now six stars and on W/L. I give you my word I will read more.
Shirley Grace

Dean Lombardo wrote 584 days ago


Hi Victoria,
I loved what I read. This is an absorbing tale that transported me to faraway lands and a different way of life. I'll try to circle back for more of Chapter 3 where I left off. Great job. Six stars.
Dean Lombardo
"Space Games"

Lynne Heffner Ferrante wrote 607 days ago

You are a phenomenal writer. This is so far an awesome book. You have an almost other worldly ability to describe people, places, incidents in ways that are fresh and quirky. There is incredible veracity and empathy in your depiction of this boy and his life. I thins that this is a big winner. I will definitely back you as soon as I am able.
Six stars for you. Can't wait to read the rest of the story.

Lynne Heffner Ferrante
An Untenable Fragrance of Violets

arne wrote 624 days ago

Oh my, I love it. You have a tremendous writing style. Maybe my favorite style, it is very remenicent of Hemmingways style. I am pleasantly surprised, and happy that I picked this book to review next, of all the books on the list in the literary fiction reading club. This is unreal good.
Arne Lash
Pimps, Beggars, and Bones.

grouserock wrote 636 days ago

Your style of writing is what pulled me into this story initially. But I also love the way the foreign setting comes into play, adding an interesting magic all its own. The characters and the story feel authentic and quite unique.
A few things I noted: the last "were" in the first paragraph needs to be deleted. And I think there is a missing word in the sentence, "The grown-up men of the family would take him very early ......then come back ___ help my mother." Also, do you mean homey - instead of homely? (Chap 4)
Your writing is polished and I'm not sure I can really offer much in the way of critique for this exceptional story, but I do know how much I appreciate suggestions and other readers' first impressions so I'll offer a couple of my thoughts.
I felt as if I needed more background about Aryanti before she breaks it off with Fajar. With the backstory of their meeting coming later, I wasn't very invested in the relationship and wasn't sure how much Fajar cared at that point.
Most of your details of setting are very well placed - hardly interfering with the movement of the story. But at the beginning of Victoria's first teaching day it feels as if all the interesting info, such as the police officer virginity testing and Marion's loneliness etc.ought to be placed in with the activities of the characters and some action to keep things moving, instead of brought in such a big cluster of telling.
Some of the sentences I especially liked: ..."But time was marching past me and there didn't seem to be any way forward" (so profound) , father's presence "could still be felt in the corner and around the windowsills.", (love it) "inch by inch I turned to very cold stone" (understated perfectly) The scene with the teacher and students all repeating thank-you, ("we sound like a little flock of bilingual sheep") is particularly well drawn. The best one of all for me so far is "the sound of unlikeable, lonely people clamoring for attention in a vast wilderness of dust and smoke and disappointment."
Good luck with this book. It deserves to be published.



David Howsam wrote 643 days ago

Hi Victoria,

I liked the story here and the comfortable and unforced manner with which you tell it. Some very subtle observations made without in any way breaking the rhythm of the narrative. Good movement between characters and POV that makes them believable and compelling. The story is tight and focused and the characterisations drawn out into real characters that do not resolve into cliche. I've never been to Jakarta but the descriptive writing was particularly evocative and gave the action a definite and realistic space though which to evolve. I didn't have any problems with the shifts in POV as the language and method of telling the story seemed to shift significantly enough to signal when this was happening.

I can see why many others have had such good things to say. And it deserves to be high up in the rankings.

Good luck with this and any other writing you are doing.

David.

rikasworld wrote 646 days ago

I saw this recommended on one of the threads and just popped in for a read. I think it is very professionally written, the prose is evocative and concise. I enjoyed the chapters with Fajar as narrator but was slightly thrown when the pov changed to Victoria. The voice is distinct so my only critical suggestion is maybe to signal the change a little more, I missed the small Vic at the top of the page. Maybe it's just me!
Beautifully written and very engaging. Lots of stars, obviously, for what that's worth.

Nichola Hunter wrote 648 days ago

Hi John,

Thanks for your review of Ramadan Sky. I don't mind at all that it isn't your cup of tea - that's the way it goes sometimes. There are many fine books out there that don't really work for me, too.

I also gave due consideration to writing from the viewpoints of Indoneisans, but made my own political decision to go ahead and do it. This very much upset one person on autho and will doubtless bother others, but I'm sticking to my guns. I'm not stopping Indonesians from speaking for themselves - i'm pretty much giving voice to what I have heard people say, having lived there for a long time - no one would care if I made up some English or Scottish characters, even though I'm Australian. Should I let the Scots speak for themselves?

Anyway, thanks again.

Best wishes,

Victoria

A Phoenix Literary Club Review

Beautifully written and a joy to read. The prose seems so effortless; though I very much suspect that it wasn't effortless to write. "Ramadan Sky" is not just the sort of novel that should be published; it should be a candidate for literary prizes, too.

However, I believe in being honest in these reviews, and I have to admit that Ramadan Sky didn't engage me as a reader. Other than Fajar and Aryanti, all the characters seem unpleasant and in some cases downright nasty. There are very few moments of happiness or laughter (even Fajar's winning the motorcycle race later goes sour on him). The Indonesian culture seems oppressive and unfriendly, too. Often, when I read a book about a culture that's new to me, I start to dream about visiting this country and seeing all these wonders for myself. Your portrayal of Indonesia has totally the opposite effect: I feel it's a place to avoid at all costs.

I also have issues with Western writers writing about a non-Western culture from the viewpoint of the natives. I always feel that the natives themselves ought to be given the opportunity to tell their own stories in their own way. But that's just my opinion.

One other, minor point: when I started reading the chapter headed "Vic" I assumed at first that Vic was a man, and wondered why a man would be obsessed with weddings. Slightly threw me for a bit.

Sorry if my review sounds a bit negative; I think that has more to do with me than your novel. The positives far, far outway the negatives -- it's just that Ramadan Sky isn't quite my cup of tea. Good luck with it, all the same.

John Bayliss wrote 649 days ago

A Phoenix Literary Club Review

Beautifully written and a joy to read. The prose seems so effortless; though I very much suspect that it wasn't effortless to write. "Ramadan Sky" is not just the sort of novel that should be published; it should be a candidate for literary prizes, too.

However, I believe in being honest in these reviews, and I have to admit that Ramadan Sky didn't engage me as a reader. Other than Fajar and Aryanti, all the characters seem unpleasant and in some cases downright nasty. There are very few moments of happiness or laughter (even Fajar's winning the motorcycle race later goes sour on him). The Indonesian culture seems oppressive and unfriendly, too. Often, when I read a book about a culture that's new to me, I start to dream about visiting this country and seeing all these wonders for myself. Your portrayal of Indonesia has totally the opposite effect: I feel it's a place to avoid at all costs.

I also have issues with Western writers writing about a non-Western culture from the viewpoint of the natives. I always feel that the natives themselves ought to be given the opportunity to tell their own stories in their own way. But that's just my opinion.

One other, minor point: when I started reading the chapter headed "Vic" I assumed at first that Vic was a man, and wondered why a man would be obsessed with weddings. Slightly threw me for a bit.

Sorry if my review sounds a bit negative; I think that has more to do with me than your novel. The positives far, far outway the negatives -- it's just that Ramadan Sky isn't quite my cup of tea. Good luck with it, all the same.

jlbwye wrote 651 days ago

Ramadan Sky. A Phoenix Review. I've come by after popping into the forum, and reading your captivating pitch.

Ch.1. A dramatic start, but I'm wondering who is Fajar? The narrator? And who / where is the other man, of 'The two men looked at each other and then turned their eyes on me.'
Nit-picking seems to be ingrained in me - hope you dont mind. As his tongue seeks the gap in his teeth, the repeated word 'then' jumps out at me.
I have the answer to my first question, but not the second - maybe he was just an insignificant messenger?
Love that inverted phrase 'a cold stone boy' - so evocative of the shock which happens after a death. A defense mechanism.

Ch.2. 'Our motorbikes roar like stallions, kicking up dust over the oily moon.' You have a great way with words.
This is a compelling, fast moving story. Very well written to portray the sights and sounds of a country I've never visited, but your characters are familiar, and true to life.
I find the footnotes a bit awkward. I dont want to lose my place by scrolling down - yet when I reach the end of the chapter I've forgotten what the word and its context was! It is a difficult problem. I tried to surmount it by hinting at the meaning within the text, and putting a Glossary at the end of the book.

Ch.3. You draw a great picture of Fajor's anger and frustration while revealing the confined chaos of his crowded home.
Perhaps you should do a search for all the 'I' words and think about alternatives?

Ch.4. I'd meant to stop after the third chapter, but I cant help myself. What do you mean by mullet? My dictionary says an edible sea fish!
Perhaps you should take another look at that sentence where she gets the money mixed up ... I had to read it three times before I realised what you meant.
With Vic, I am learning so much about Jakarta from the other viewpoint.

If only I had time to read on! But I leave you with multi-stars, and a conviction that this book will do well.

Jane (Breath of Africa).

turnerpage wrote 653 days ago

A Phoenix Review
I have a familial connection to this part of the globe and just this year I visited Indonesia for the first time. I am familiar with large cities in the region and found the description of life in Jakarta – in particular, the way that people live their lives on the streets is almost as exactly as I have observed it to be. I was utterly convinced and absorbed and as I read I imagined the stifling heat and humidity and the assault on the senses.

I was intrigued by the burial ritual in the first chapter as I'd always associated coffins with Western burial rites and had assumed that in Muslim burials that the body was simply wrapped in a shroud and then buried as quickly as possible.

This is an intriguing and beautifully written book. Fajar's English voice convinces this reader – and you've managed to mimic the speech patterns as though English is perhaps his second or even third language.

Indonesia is such an important strategic neighbour to Australia yet is so poorly represented in literature. I am keeping all fingers crossed that an Australian publisher will get behind your book.
Lambert Nagle
Revolution Earth

Lara wrote 654 days ago

Goodness knows how you got the copy for this but it totally convinces. I did wonder whether you could improve even more the opening scene. Wh not start with the finger n the mouth, the agony. He won't notce any details until the pain is gone we get that, the slight relief that it is over for him, and then the dramatic news. I think his reaction is exactly right for a young boy. You have done this well and you could even extend the funeral scene. When you move on to some years later, it would be stronger to open with the bossy sister showing her style and the others joining . A dialogue to open would be better than just a telling. I read to 7 without lapse in interest or admiration for your ability to capture this world in all its corruption and struggle to survive.
Lara
A RELATIVE LOSS

Cyrus Hood wrote 660 days ago

Gosh, I'm still impressed by your writing style it positively throbs with emotion and passion. I love the tiny details, you are indeed a qualified observer of life, a skill that cannot be taught, it is in the blood. A beautiful story that deserves to be held above our heads and waved like a banner.

regards

Cyrus

Karamak wrote 666 days ago

This is a refreshingly different take on this theme and you have injected it with a wonderful narative voice. I really enjoyed this read even the intimate bits are dealt with flair. A delight to read and highly stared i wish you well, all the best, Karen, Faking it in France.

R. Dango wrote 667 days ago

I read the first couple of chapters back in March and now I've just come back to read more. The story is capturing and it is eloquently told. The style and the mood match perfectly to the beautiful cover and the title.
R
The Forest of Vulcanus

R. Dango wrote 667 days ago

I read first couple of chapters in March and I've just now come back to read more. It's a capturing story and very eloquently told. The style and the mood perfectly match the beautiful cover and the title.
R
The Forest of Vulcanus

R. Dango wrote 667 days ago

I read first couple of chapters in March and I've just now come back to read more. It's a capturing story and very eloquently told. The style and the mood perfectly match the beautiful cover and the title.
R
The Forest of Vulcanus

Wanttobeawriter wrote 679 days ago

RAMADAN SKY
I like stories that transport me away to a land I will probably never see and introduce me to people I will probably never meet. This story does that very well so I liked it a lot. A big plus is that it reads as if it’s taken from a journal or is a true story (which made me surprised when I looked to see who was the author and discovered this couldn’t be a true story; you’re obviously not a guy). That’s writing skill to be able to fool a reader that way. One small thing: I don’t think you need the asterisks to explain terms. The asterisks pull your reader out of the story and as long as a word is used in context (We ate goreng; he has big telangas . . .) your reader can tell what the word means. Either that, or add a short phase after the word to explain it (We ate goreng, deep fried and delicious; he has big telangas on both sides of his head . . .). Either way, this is a good read. Highly starred and added to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 685 days ago

Victoria,
What a rare piece of work you've brought into this world, centered on an expat female English teacher taking on an Indonesian coolie lover. Cultural differences flavour the relationship which picks up steam in the sweltering heat, under curious eyes and with jealous sniping from the boy's fiance. The prose blooms with such expressive phrases as "reclining in the clouds, clad in rose-pink pantaloons" or "traffic...heaving and spitting out poison." Your sentences are straightforward and easy to follow, your dialogue lively and colourful. Thank you so much for the engaging read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Grace_Gallagher wrote 688 days ago

Hi Victoria
Your writing is beautiful and intense. I don't have any constructive feedback to offer, I just wanted to let you know that I think you have created something special here and to wish you best of luck with it
cheers
GG x

bunderful wrote 721 days ago

I finally got around to reading this. Sorry its taken me so long. I've read almost everything you have posted. Not only was I immediately drawn in by the writing style which is simple yet elegant - your turns of phrase have power because they don't overwhelm the manuscript. I was also drawn in because of the setting - I know very little about Indonesia so I found the local color fascinating. I also like the various narrative threads and switching voices - getting into so many different heads. And I like the relationships that are developing. What I would say was that sometimes I didn't pay attention to the heading at the start of each chapter and then I was confused as to who was speaking. Ideally...the voices should all be extremely distinct -- such that you don't even need a heading, and I just wondered if perhaps some of your "voices" sounded a bit too similar? I have been accused of this in some of my own writing so I am sensitive to this - and it is very difficult to accomplish especially if you are dealing with more than two points of view. Not that my read was affected by this at all, it is really the only negative comment I have. I read everything in one sitting and just kept turning pages. It was gripping and a pleasure to read. I love the title too. On my shelf and six-starred.

Cyrus Hood wrote 722 days ago

What I enjoy about this work is the frankness, the matter-of-fact way the story unfolds. It just seems so entirely natural. Even the sex scenes, which so many writers attempt but do not carry off- it's weird I don't know how you do it but there is nothing overtly obscene about it. I hope that is how you intended this to work Victoria because it really comes up quietly behind the reader and bites them in the neck! I will continue to support your work I really think this could do well.

regards

Cyrus

Kate M. wrote 723 days ago

Ramadan Sky
Review #1
I read Chapters 1-4, will read more tomorrow, but I need to go to bed! Wanted to post this, though so you know there is more coming. it's not a lot of critiquing - I didn't find much to critique to be honest. I always try, so here's what I came up with:
Ch1
This is powerful stuff here. The narrative is so simple – the voice of a child, as it’s intended. The imagery is subtle, it’s in the details - the birthmark on the woman’s face on the bus, scraps of rubbish blowing around. Nothing ornate or flowery, just simply there, not forced at all. And somehow you don’t even realizing you’re absorbing these small details until you get to the end. Just brilliant.
I love how the voice in Ch2 is distinctly older than the child in Chapter 1. But, not an adult yet, still some distinct childish phrasing. Well done there! There is minimal dialogue so far, and yet I’m captivated. This is an accomplishment in the age of writing rules (“show don’t tell”). Ch 2 has a bit more, but still on the minimal side. Yet I'm still into it.
Ch3: one nit “these people are rough, but I am curious about them” Tense switch? The rest of the ch is past.
The scene where the police point the gun at Budi, you say he crumpled to the ground..it was a few paragraphs later before I realized that he hadn’t been shot. I had to go back and reread it, but it still seemd a bit confusing to me.
Ch4: I really like multiple first POV books. I always think they’re the best kind – you get inside a lot of people’s heads! Impressive change of voice, again.
“Something happens when you arrive in such a city…” this is a fantastic paragraph.
Should all the numbers be spelled out? I’m not sure about times. I think they should, but double check.
Ha ha bazookas….
You end chapters poetically, with a peaceful closure. I like it a lot. Be back tomorrow!
Kate M.

Melissa Writes wrote 724 days ago

Victoria,
I love the way you write to conjure up the sights and sounds of Indonesia. I was thoroughly absorbed in the narrative which flows effortlessly. The writing appears to be flawless so there's not much to be critical about. I'll definitely make space on my shelf for this.
Best of luck,
Melissa
Lessons in the Dark

Sharda D wrote 728 days ago

This is a moving, authentic and beautiful evocation of Indonesia. The boy's POV is masterfully done, and the language is simple and refreshing, "Rahmat argues with everything and always wants the best of everything for himself and his dog-faced wife."... later, about another brother, "He eats and then goes off to work with eyes sullen and drooping from lack of sleep", you manage to add poetry to the voice of the young boy, but it is his poetry!
I had a little trouble working out how the first 2-3 chapters I read fitted with the pitches. Maybe you need to mention Fajar in the pitch, particularly as many people on Authonomy may only read the first few chapters. I can see that the character in the pitches comes in later, but it was a little confusing to begin with as I read the pitch first and was therefore expecting a female, English protagonist! Just a little niggle though.
There is plenty to enjoy here. The story is unusual, set in a unique and fascinating part of the world. I'm sure you'll get a publisher soon.
6 stars from me,
All the best,
Sharda.

Cyrus Hood wrote 731 days ago

You write so eloquently about this subject that I feel you must have lived in Indonesia. I like the unusual way you write down the dialogue. This story has many layers and as it unfolds the reader knows that there is a kind of unspoken tragedy just waiting around the corner. I like the authentic feeling that the characters do not actually recognise the desperate conditions which they live under.
Is there a word or phrase missing in the paragraph when Bihn gets(shot?) by the policeman?
I'm putting this on my watchlist and will find a space on my bookshelf soon.
Well done Victoria,

regards

Cyrus

Cyrus Hood wrote 736 days ago

Very interesting Victoria - I was drawn to your profile because you are one of the few writers to post Truman Capote on your favourite books list. (He was, as you know, a tortured genius, a subject that I find particularly interesting ((hence my Avatar)).
Back to your work, Nice style and pace I liked the kind of indifference in the tone, as if the narrator has relinquished the fight and submitted to destiny. That fits so stylishly into the story that I'm convinced this is not a fortuitous accident. I believe you understand your craft very well. I have only read the opening chapters during my lunch break but have been completely absorbed by this intelligent work. well done.

Cyrus - Hellion 2

Nathan O'Hagan wrote 738 days ago

I don't know why it's taken me so long to get round to reading this, but i'm glad i finally got a few chapters read.
First of all, i really like the title. It's one of those that just grabs your attention, it doesn't necessarily tell you anything about the book itsself, it just feels indefinably poetic and beatufil, like a song title.
The pitch, i have to say, didn't grab me as much, in fact i almost confused me to be honest.
The book itself though, well i said the title was indefinably beautiful and poetic, and the prose is likewise. It's imaginative, goureously written and just has a feeling of....lushness, if that is 't too naff a word.
I have read a few things on here that attempt a similar mood, but mostly they have failed, and the writers of thse books need to read a few chapters of yours to see how it should really be done.
It's one of those books on here that feel a step apart from some of the rest of us, like it's just somehow operating ona slightly higher plan than us.
No real constructive crit to offer i'm afriad, but i'm very impressed, and embarrassed it took me so long to return the read.
Six stars, and a futute backing.

zap wrote 742 days ago

Hi Victoria,
I keep reading your story and enjoy it very much. Every sentence is forged with great care and consideration, while you manage to make it sound so casual, a quaint and beautiful mixture of straight talk and poetic elegance. I've never been to Indonesia, but the culture just springs to life and you present the contradictions in a down-to-earth fashion which is so refreshing to read. A deep sense of humour is lacing your every observation and to my surprise I found myself giggling like a school-girl in good old Asian fashion.
Ame
Wolfmother in White

Elizabeth Buhmann wrote 749 days ago

Victoria, this is a charming story so far! You evoke so well this exotic (to me) setting not only in the description and detail and dialogue, but also in the very voice of the narrator. There are a few things that could be edited, but the writing is beautiful. I like it very much. I am putting on my WL to shelve when a space opens.

Elizabeth
The Made-Up Man

lesliethompson wrote 755 days ago

Just reading the blurb was entertaining. I gotta work right now, but I am coming back for a solid read.LOL

katemb wrote 771 days ago

This is a great read. The stone cold boy is a highly engaging character and the amount of information you've supplied about Fajar in this opening chapter is extremely impressive. Wonderful details draw the reader in - the pleasure of the gap where the rotting tooth had been, the unwanted green and pink cakes. So well done!
Best wishes for you and your book!
Kate
The Licenser
p.s I was immediately drawn in by your pitches - meant to say that earlier!

L_MC wrote 771 days ago

Six chapters in, I'm finding this to be a story where it's very easy to get caught up in both the setting and the characters, with all of their depths and contrasts.

You don't fall into rambling prose to portray the sights, sounds and culture of Indonesia but, instead do so through subtle observations and characterisation. The gap in age and culture, between Fajar ad Vic is an effective tool to explore the culture and religion, the attitudes towards women.

The switching POV in the chapters works, in this instance, with an overlap (without just retelling the same story from a different angle) that entwines the characters and makes you wonder where this story will lead them.

Whilst descriptive and rich, this is also an engaging tale of people of different age, gender and culture, which is very easy to read and get caught up in.

AudreyB wrote 772 days ago

Victoria, this is a lovely book. You evoke a distant place with ease in a mesmerizing, soothing narrative. I could go on complimenting you for days but I think you know this is a wonderful story.

What I can offer is some general English teacher pickiness. Not the best of gifts to bear, but it’s the only one I have.

I’m starting on Chapter 2 as I imagine Ch 1 gets plenty of commentary. I don’t bother with making it all sound like nice suggestions; you are talented enough to know where I’m on to a great idea or just plain wrong.

“I’m not a little kid…” I expected “I’m not a child…”

You use dashes the way I used to use them until Carolina Al straightened me out. Type two hyphens and no spaces—like this—when you want a dash.

When you say he works at McDs do you mean at McDonald’s? I vote for spelling it out on the first mention.

Who am I kidding? I keep getting caught up in reading this marvelous story!!

Top of Ch. 3: Let’s is missing its apostrophe. My parent’s marriage has one in the wrong place (should be parents’).

Wouldn’t “catholic nun” be capitalized? Catholic nun??

Clearly you don’t need any more of me and my gift. I’ll just finish reading without making these pointless notes.

~AudreyB
Forgiveness Fits

Red2u wrote 781 days ago

Have to say I was a bit confused at first with the long pitch. He's asleep but he crawls like a shrimp...
None the less I read on and enjoyed the first chapter. The pulling of the tooth and he not understanding his father's departure. Well done Have given it a good rating.
Regards, Red
Illusions od Comfort

Red2u wrote 781 days ago

Have to say I was a bit confused at first with the long pitch. He's asleep but he crawls like a shrimp...
None the less I read on and enjoyed the first chapter. The pulling of the tooth and he not understanding his father's departure. Well done Have given it a good rating.
Regards, Red
Illusions od Comfort

Elizabeth H wrote 784 days ago

Hi, new friend Victoria, I have been thinking about reading this one for a while and it is Woman's Only review. I think what put me off was that I don't generally enjoy Eastern stuff, but this is the exception.

Impressions? Yes, the viscerol experience was amazing. I got a real taste of the Far East and all the customs. Beyond that, the characters were amazing. I was disappointed when I came to the end, but I guess this is a novelette. You might want to look up Duotrope for possible markets, or Ralan.com. This is so ready to go.

If I could have found anything to nit, I would have said so, but I didn't. You are squeaky clean, my dear. I give this a flurry of stars and will put it on my shelf.

I'd love for you to have a look at my stuff. Please bear in mind it is not a morbid Arthur rewrite on the original Mallory take. This is all new material taking up where the legend left off.

Good luck with your book.

Elizabeth H.

KathyJohn wrote 787 days ago

This is wonderful. I felt myself stepping into the young boys world and feeling the pain the bad tooth. The horror of his solitude.

Betty Jarvis wrote 788 days ago

I've spent a lot of time in Indonesia and can attest to how well you've captured the beauty of the area. I was surprised to have found such a high quality piece on this site and hope you are able to achieve publication with it in the very near future.

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