Blue Widow with Green Stripes: Pivots in Widening Horizons
Shifting from texts to painting to taste over three novels, Laksmi Pamuntjak, whose work is discussed in this chapter, traces seventy years of Indonesian psychosocial history. Pamuntjak invokes daemonic or charismatic figures and Cold War hauntologies, but also Islamist demands, bureaucratic infighting, and local particularisms. Like Lydia Kwa, she draws on classical tales—for example, the Mahabharata, the Serat Centhini, and Attar's The Conference of the Birds—but also utilizes more recent cultural referents, such as the work of Western and Indonesian painters. Her novels deal with Indonesia's political history, especially the 1965 coup and the ensuing massacres of leftists, and the effect of this on people's lives and psyches. Her work focuses mostly on female characters and features strong modern women with shifting marital and sexual relationships, a counter-image to the masculine groups of men in 1965 massacres. Another recurring theme is that of art, and particularly the significance of color.