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Iban Journey By Golda Mowe – Book Review

Iban Journey by Golda Mowe

I have a bone to pick with this book. As a non Sarawakian, it was refreshing to read about Sarawak’s culture and history. Their fantasy tales on legends and adventures in the greens of Sarawak is something that needs to be made known.

However, Mowe’s delivery was lacking. It took me three attempts to finally finish this book. In the end, it felt more like a chore. I found myself rereading sentences or paragraphs several times because of Mowe’s writing style. Some sentences were long and convoluted, which made the storyline difficult to grasp.

There were many instances where Mowe forgoes the number one storytelling rule, which is show don’t tell.

The story introduces Nuing as a cursed child. The readers are led to believe that the curse that shadows over him is because he is a product of rape. Since his arrival in the world, his fellow villagers have shunned his existence.

Nuing then sets out on his journey to redeem his worth and protect his people against Antu Gerasi and the Iban’s spirits and gods.

As per character development, I felt Nuing, the cursed son of the great headhunter Bujang Maias, hadn’t proven himself to be truly victorious. I sometimes question his thoughts and actions during certain encounters and scenes.

Speaking of characters, half way through the book, Bujang Maias, the father who has always accepted him as his own and had been an influential part of his life, was left to be forgotten.

We were also introduced to the pig princess that insists on wanting to make Nuing her husband, but her reasoning wasn’t made clear.

While Iban Journey does a great job at introducing readers to the folklore of the Ibans of Sarawak, in the end, the premise of the story wasn’t fully translated to the readers.

I do hope there would be more folklore stories by Malaysian authors as it adds to the diversity of genres.

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