People from Oetimu


Translated from by

Published: February 11, 2025




Want a discount? Become a member by purchasing Memberships!

Book Description

July 1998. Men living on the border between West and East Timor are gathering at the police station to watch the World Cup. No one feels quite noble enough to sit next to the Javanese soldiers, or the Indonesian regime’s loyal fighter, Martin Kabiti, so most of the guys crowd on the floor. They train their eyes on Brazilian superstar Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima, urging him to step it up and beat the French. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, political insurgents are in the process of invading the village, with plans to kill.


From there, Felix K. Nesi’s formidable debut novel cycles backward in time, to the independence movements against Portuguese rule in the 1970s, the period of Japanese occupation in the 1940s, and back again to the evening of the World Cup Final. People from Oetimu combines precise political recounting, stories adapted from articles in newspapers, and fables that Nesi overheard through Indonesia’s robust oral tradition. These elements lend themselves to a propulsive, all-consuming narrative power.


Nesi stays close to the characters he depicts. Each one lives and breathes, seeming to look out at you from the page. The pain of years of domination and violent conflict recurs. At the same time you will find yourself laughing at corrupt institutions, as Nesi flips the power structure on its head. Both a political inquiry into how to escape cycles of violence and an inventive story of people’s surprising interconnections, People from Oetimu is an intoxicating reading experience.