Budi Darma, Novelist and Professor Emeritus of Universitas Negeri Surabaya, the State University of Surabaya, Indonesia:
The knowledge Mochtar Lubis gathered as a journalist served him well as an author of several works of historical fiction. In Love, Death and Revolution, Lubis transports the reader to the early days of Indonesia’s revolution, when Indonesians were driven by passion and built a future on dreams. Through the story of Sadeli, an agent of the Indonesian Intelligence Service, Lubis not only brings the reader’s attention to the injustice of colonialism, he also engages the reader in the ongoing, universal soul-searching of topics such as humanity and individual freedom. While the novel is a reminder for Indonesians of the spirit of the revolution, it also serves as a universal plea for the freedom of mankind.
Stefanny Irawan’s thoughtful and accurate translation gives the Western reader access to otherwise undisclosed motives and sentiments unique to the Indonesian psyche.
Jeffrey Hadler, Associate Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies, U.C. Berkeley:
There are two towering figures in the study of postcolonial Indonesian literature: Pramoedya
Ananta Toer and Mochtar Lubis. Both polemical and uncompromising, both deeply invested in
revising Indonesian history, the communist and the anticommunist, Pram and counter-Pram. This
historical novel, published in 1977, is a dramatization of the Indonesian Revolution that
amplifies the anticommunism of the palmy years of Soeharto’s New Order regime. It is a big and
ambitious story, one that forgoes a critical reexamination of the revolution and instead tells a
Sumatran tale of spies and anti-colonial intrigue through a hero who moves across Southeast
Asia like a latter-day filibuster. It is a didactic adventure novel, one that would educate readers
about the anticolonial politics of the 1940s while at the same time reflecting on an Indonesia of
the 1970s. Mochtar Lubis, a major journalist whose early works of fiction were subtle and
restrained, writes a novel of revolution in the context of counter-revolution. Love, Death, and
Revolution is a fascinating final work by a major Indonesian author that is presented in a fine
new translation. Students of Indonesian history will find much to contemplate here.