Rendang by Will Harris (Wesleyan University Press, paperback)
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
The shades open for landing, I see the pandan-leafed interior expanding towards the edge of a relieved horizon. Down along the banks of the Ciliwung are slums I had forgotten, the river like a loosely sutured wound. As we begin our descent into the black smog of an emerging power, I make out the tin shacks, the stalls selling juices, the red-tiled colonial barracks, the new mall. It is raining profusely. After years of her urging me to go, me holding back, I have no more excuses.
Using long poems, ekphrasis, and ruptured forms, RENDANG is a startling new take on the self, and how an identity is constructed. Drawing on his Anglo-Indonesian heritage, Will Harris shows us new ways to think about the contradictions of identity and cultural memory. He creates companions that speak to us in multiple languages. They deftly ask us to consider how and what we look at, as well as what we don't look at and why. It is intellectual and accessible, moving and experimental, and combines a linguistic innovation with a deep emotional rooting.