Inspired by horror fiction, myths and fairy tales, Apple and Knife is an unsettling ride that swerves into the supernatural to explore the dangers and power of occupying a female body in today’s world.
These short fictions set in the Indonesian everyday—in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns, on dangdut stages—reveal a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface. Sometimes wacky and always engrossing, this is subversive feminist horror at its best, where men and women alike are arbiters of fear, and where revenge is sometimes sweetest when delivered from the grave.
Mara finds herself brainstorming an ad campaign for Free Maxi Pads, with a little help from the menstruation-eating hag of her childhood. Jamal falls in love with the rich and powerful Bambang, but it is the era of the smiling general and, if he’s not careful, he may find himself recruited to Bambang’s brutal cause. Solihin would give anything to make dangdut singer Salimah his wife – anything at all.
In the globally connected and fast-developing Indonesia of Apple and Knife, taboos, inversions, sex and death all come together in a heady, intoxicating mix full of pointed critiques and bloody mutilations. Women carve a place for themselves in this world, finding ways to subvert norms or enacting brutalities on themselves and each other.
“Intan Paramaditha, who mixes fairy tales and gothic ghost stories with feminist and political issues, shakes up her readers, showing that her fiction is not beholden to a single interpretation. Her short stories reveal that the most terrifying thing in life is not one of the supernatural ghosts that populate her work, but human prejudice. As far as I’m concerned, only writers of genius are able to convey a layered and nuanced world, and Intan is one of them.”
Eka Kurniawan, internationally acclaimed author of Beauty is a Wound and Man Tiger, Man Booker International Prize 2016 finalist
“In Apple and Knife, Intan Paramaditha has turned the fairytale on its head. Instead of helpless maidens, these fables are bursting with fierce and fabulous females, determined to exact justice in an unjust world. As the enigmatic title suggests, the writing is juicy and incisive. Every story is a gem and, as with all good fairytales, there are important lessons to be learned.”
Melanie Cheng, author of Australia Day, winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award
“Deliciously dark and expertly disturbing, Intan Paramaditha’s compelling Apple and Knife will haunt you. Her weird, original stories reveal the darkness behind old tales and the shadows lurking at the edges of modern life.”
Ryan O’Neill, author of The Weight of a Human Heart and Their Brilliant Careers, winner of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction