The Birdwoman’s Palate by Laksmi Pamuntjak, translated by Tiffany Tsao


51NekbcH1AL._AC_US436_FMwebp_QL65_This was supposed to be one of my WIT books this year, but my August fell apart and I was grateful to have worked far enough ahead of the Bible posts to get anything posted last month. Despite the timing not working out, though, I am so glad I read this book. Not only was it just the mood I needed to compensate for real life, but it was an unexpected fit for Task 10 on this year’s Read Harder challenge, a romance by or about a person of color.

The Birdwoman’s PalateĀ is light hearted and fun and perfect for any foodlover. Honestly, it made me wonder how to pull off a culinary tour of my own country and curious about foods I’d never heard of before. I adore Aruna as a main character. She’s smart and cares about her work but isn’t oblivious to the flaws in the system. She also has a way of making a miserable assignment better and I couldn’t enjoy her method more.

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the story, its pretty universal. Change around some details, like the names of meals and locations and disease followed and the story would work just as easily in the US. Any country big enough in land to have different regions of food and any sort of livestock issue could easily relate to the overall problem our cast is dealing with along with the culinary adventure in the middle.

This one takes place in Indonesia, which is where the author lives, and is the third book I’ve read set in Indonesia. That said, the other two had style similarities that I wonder whether they are cultural or just popular in this genre there, since all three are also similar in genre. They could all be classified as chick lit, much as I don’t like that term sometimes.

Mainly, the mention of dreams as introductions to chapters or ideas and using italics to delineate them is unique in my reading to the Indonesian books. I do like way the dreams are employed. They help set the tone of the chapter that follows and sometimes introduce a new character. The first of these in this book is a little confusing and I’m still not really sure what the message is supposed to be, but stick with it.

The secondary characters each have their endearing qualities but are all seen through the sense of Aruna’s experience of them. This gets a little fun with Farish but left me feeling a little let down with images of Nadezhda. I liked her character, just not the manner in which Aruna came by some of the information about her.

As I mentioned earlier, though, it was the perfect book to be reading at the time and I really enjoyed it. Its a good example of the point of both Read Harder and WIT as I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.

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