Ikal is a student at Muhammadiyah Elementary, on the Indonesian island of Belitong, where graduating from sixth grade is considered a major achievement. His school is under constant threat of closure. In fact, Ikal and his friends - a group called The Rainbow Troops - face threats from every angle: pessimistic, corrupt government officials; greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they've replaced; deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure; and their own faltering self-confidence. But in the form of two extraordinary teachers, they also have hope, and Ikal's education is an uplifting one, in and out of the classroom. You will cheer for Ikal and his friends as they defy the town's powerful tin miners. Meet his first love - a hand with half-moon fingernails that passes him the chalk his teacher sent him to buy. You will roar in support of Lintang, the class's barefoot maths genius, as he bests the rich company children in an academic challenge. First published in Indonesia, The Rainbow Troops went on to sell over 5 million copies. Now it is set to captivate listeners across the globe. This is classic storytelling: an engrossing depiction of a world not often encountered, bursting with charm and verve.
"This is a charming and uplifting book, full of exotic Indonesian words, references to Islamic prayer times and ethnic groups that peacefully coexist (Malays, Chinese immigrants, native Sawangs). It makes for a refreshing break from the middle-class navel-gazing of most Western fiction." (The Economist)
"The Rainbow Troops has become a cult novel in its own country and is the first Indonesian novel to find its way into the international general fiction market. It's a coming-of-age novel, a beautiful little love story, and a David and Goliath tale about courage, persistence, loyalty and dedication, and, most of all, the value and power of education. If it were not so gently told, this story would also be a savage critique of corporate greed and government corruption, but it's easy enough for the reader to see the grotesque gap between rich and poor without having it spelt out. A poetic evocation of a brutal life." (The Sydney Morning Herald)
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