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The Birdwoman’s Palate (US)


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Amazon Crossing (US)


The Birdwoman’s Palate (US)


Aruna is an epidemiologist dedicated to food and avian politics. One is heaven, the other earth. The two passions blend in unexpected ways when Aruna is asked to research a handful of isolated bird flu cases reported across Indonesia. While it’s put a crimp in her aunt’s West Java farm, and made her own confit de canard highly questionable, the investigation does provide an irresistible opportunity.

It’s the perfect excuse to get away from corrupt and corrosive Jakarta and explore the spices of the far-flung regions of the islands with her three friends: a celebrity chef, a globe-trotting ‘foodist’ and her coworker Farish.

From Medan to Surabaya, Palembang to Pontianak, Aruna and her friends have their fill of local cuisine. With every delicious dish, she discovers there’s so much more to food, politics and friendship. Now, this liberating new perspective on her country—and on her life—push her to pursue the things she’s only dreamed of doing.

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The Birdwoman’s Palate (US)

“An intelligent, sensual, serious way of looking at and thinking about food, … with rich dialogue and compelling characters …” Kompas, 2014


“Who better to write a book about a culinary tour through Indonesia than Laksmi, whose passion and knowledge of the local cuisine is unsurpassed. I still remember when she took us around Jakarta on a local food tour 18 years ago. This book brings me back to the street satays and sit down feasts we experienced together” - Jean-Georges Vongerichten, NY celebrity chef

"A beautifully-written novel: humane, humble, passionate, and ripe with culinary interactions ... a fitting tribute from the author of Indonesia's first independent good food guide." - William Wongso, Indonesian culinary guru

"When history and climate change threaten to overpower us we need books like Laksmi Pamuntjak’s The Birdwoman's Palate to remind us that it is through love, friendship, culture, and sharing the good things nature has to offer we will find solace and the solutions for moving forward. It is a well-told, affecting tale that brings us closer, over time and space, in the hour of need." - Sjon, award-winning author of Moonstone: The Boy who Never Was

"... redolent, peppery, silky come to mind. Running through the novel's riot of textures, smells, tastes, is the closeness of disease and death, with lust, self-discovery and love. The novel has an aura of a dream, too, a little shimmery - it's in the idiom of 21st-century text speak, and yet, as I was reading, I thought of Dutch still lives, with their artfully perfect fruit, flowers, fish and meat, reminding us of mortality and decay amidst beauty. The Birdwoman’s Palate for me is an incitement to take time to savor the present from the endless protocols that mask and organize human frailty." - Margaret Cohen, Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature and Civilization, Stanford University

"Laksmi Pamuntjak's second novel, The Birdwoman's Palate, is her love letter to the culinary world. The author, who made her name writing the bible of Jakarta's food scene, takes us on a journey through the far-flung spots of the Indonesian archipelago, not only diving into the wealth of local cuisines but also the complexity of regional politics with her signature wit and wisdom." - Yenni Kwok, contributor for The New York Times and Time Magazine

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