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Earth Dance

Earth Dance

Author(s): Oka Rusmini

Location(s): Bali

Genre(s): Fiction, Romance

Era(s): Modern looking back

Earth Dance, the story of four generations of Balinese women, centers on conflicts that arise between the demands of caste and personal desires. Narrated by Ida Ayu Telaga, a Balinese woman in her thirties, the novel shows Balinese women-as depicted by her mother, grandmother and female peers-to be motivated by two factors: the yearning to be beautiful, and the desire for a high-caste husband.

Headstrong Telaga defies her mother’s wishes and marries the man of her dreams, who is a commoner. Thus, in a reversal of societal expectations, as shown in the novel by images of women who aspire to “liberation” through “marrying up”, Telaga’s emancipation is implicitly characterized as a move downwards, through transformation to the status of a commoner.

Earth Dance also reveals that-like high-caste status-beauty, too, has a price. Behind the thick, glossy hair and golden complexion, lies a web of jealousy, derision and intrigue. Telaga, whose life is controlled by her mother’s avarice, her mother-in-law’s bitterness and the greed of her sister-in-law, has frequent cause to wonder: “Is this what it means to be a woman?”

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021