Dr. Richard Chauvel, Honorary Fellow, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne, Australia:
Hanna Rambe sets her historical novel in the Spice Islands of the Moluccas in the early years of the VOC, the world’s first multinational corporation. The VOC—the Dutch East India Company—sought to dominate the spice trade in the Moluccas. The story of Aimuna and Sobori begins with destruction of their village and killing of their parents in one of the VOC’s hongi expeditions to enforce its monopoly of the clove trade. Aimuna and Sobori survive to be brought up by their grandfather, who arranges for the cousins to marry. Aimuna gives birth to another opponent of the VOC.
Beneath the VOC’s monopolistic pretensions, Hanna Rambe tells Aimuna and Sobori’s story among a mosaic of traders from Makassar and Java, Moluccan sultans, Papuan slaves and sailors as well as the officials and mercenaries of the VOC. All of these actors seek to exploit the cloves cultivated by the villagers of the Moluccas. Together they constitute an intricately mixed cosmopolitan community. This fine translation from Indonesian and Moluccan Malay evokes the aroma of tropical spices and fruits embedded in a rich portrayal of culture and verse.
JJ Rizal, Indonesian historian, Jakarta, Indonesia:
This fine translation of Hanna Rambe’s new work sets her apart as a literary author. With her clear voice, the result of decades spent practicing journalism, she speaks with empathy for the indigenous people of remote and underdeveloped areas of Eastern Indonesia.
Rambe’s work focuses on the rich history of this region that represented the heart of the maritime civilization during the 16th and 17th centuries and, as the place where cloves and nutmeg originated, was sought after by the rest of the world.
In Cloves for Kolosia, Rambe explores the fate of the indigenous farmers of clove and nutmeg, then the world’s two most coveted spices. The novel recounts how the trade of these spices fueled the most intensive global transformation in history and offers its readers a cornucopia of historical data as well as an insightful depiction of the lives of the indigenous Moluccans.