|The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata|
It’s a novel written by an Indonesian author – Andrea Hirata – that has been sold for more than five millions copies and has been translated to over 20 languages worldwide.
The novel won many local and international awards, including the award from New York Book Festival 2013 under general fiction category. Read more about the author here.
Below please find the synopsis of the book:
“Ikal is a student at the poorest village school on the Indonesian island of Belitong, where graduating from sixth grade is considered a remarkable achievement. His school is under constant threat of closure. In fact, Ikal and his friends – a group nicknamed Rainbow Troops – face threats from every angle: skeptical government officials, greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they’ve replaced, deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure, and their own low self-confidence.
But the students also have hope, which comes in the form of two extraordinary teachers, and Ikal’s education in and out of the classroom is an uplifting one. We root for him and his friends as they defy the island’s powerful tin mine officials. We meet his first love, the unseen girl who sells chalk from behind a shop screen, whose pretty hands capture Ikal’s heart. We cheer for Lintang, the class’s barefoot math genius, as he bests the students of the mining corporation’s school in an academic challenge. Above all, we gain an intimate acquaintance with the customs and people of the world’s largest Muslim society.
This is classic story telling in the spirit of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner: an engrossing depiction of a milieu we have never encountered before, bursting with charm and verve.”
He is not only a great author. He is much more than that. He committed himself to education and literature by creating Indonesia’s first literary museum at his home village in Belitung Island. This non-profit institution is designed as learning center that provides free workshops and learning especially for poor students.
Find out his amazing Museum Kata Andrea Hirata here. I find it ridiculously amazing on how he could fulfill his dreams and make it into realities. Please look at the link I gave you and see the pictures.
Fyi, Belitung island is an island located on the east coast of Sumatra island in Indonesia. It’s well known for its pepper and tin. Look at the map below so that you can imagine what kind of place Belitung island is, how far is it from Singapore and Jakarta.
|Belitung island - pinned in red|
It’s such a beautiful work and inspiration. If one day you can be such a great author and earn lots of money, don’t you wish to use that money to build such a place of your dream and help those who are less fortunate to get free education and improve literacy? It's also a place to express the artistic talents and skills there.
|Introducing his books in different versions - Andrea Hirata|
Providing storytelling, free school/lesson, singing song with his guitar, introducing his novels and the museum to overseas guests/tourists have been his common activities over there, apart from writing his stories.
There is a movie made based on this novel in year 2008, in Indonesian language, also called Laskar Pelangi. I just watched it two days ago from my sister-in-law VCD that I borrowed, but I heard the movie is also available in Youtube. Check it out when you free so that you can view how Belitung island looks like and the environment back in those years plus many other things like people, culture, surrounding natures, lifestyles, and so on.
The island is blessed with beautiful beach with many big stones. I went there many years ago when the book hadn’t existed yet. My sister-in-law was born and growing up there. Her relatives are still staying there.
|Photo with Andrea Hirata - the author of the Rainbow Troops or Laskar Pelangi|
And you know what? My two dear lovely guys were much luckier than me. Both of them just visited the Belitung island earlier this year. They visited the Museum, met the author there, and my hubby was even taking personal photo with him. Oh, how envious I am!!! They also went to the beach where the film scene was taken and again, took their photo there :)
|My love at the Rainbow Troops movie site - Belitung, Indonesia|
From that time I got to know about this book, but only last week I managed to get it from the library accidentally (most probably fate ^^). It’s such a nice story, which I think you should read it too. But I was thinking that it might sound different from the original Indonesian version. I should find it out soon as my sister-in-law has the Indonesian version copy. She even bought the other three books that he wrote.
|Tourists from Singapore at Laskar Pelangi movie site ;)|
Btw, they have published the book in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal by Penguin Publisher. So try to get it from the nearest bookstore in India. Perhaps, you may like it and get inspired too :)