So begins the novel Home (Pulang) and Leila S Chudori’s remarkable fictional account of the impact of the September 30 Movement of 1965. This “movement,” blamed by military leaders on the Indonesian Communist Party, led to the murder of a million or more presumed Communists and the imprisonment of tens of thousands presumed leftists and sympathizers. Thousands of Indonesian citizens who were abroad at the time had their passports revoked and were left to live in exile. Thereafter, history was manipulated by the Soeharto government to portray its involvement in this atrocity in a favorable light. A whole generation of Indonesians was raised in world of forced silence, where facts were suppressed and left unspoken.
While the tumultuous events of 1965 are the backdrop of the story, Home is not a novel about ideology or political power. Going back and forth, both temporally and geographically, between Jakarta and Paris in 1965 and 1998, Home is about the lives of the Indonesian exiles, their families and friends, including those left behind in Indonesia. This story is one of love, lust, and betrayal but one that also includes laughter, adventure and food.