Contemplating People's Nonsense Dream of America

Either liberation, prosperity, social or cultural mobility, American Dreams often attract people to come to the land. Some people call it dreams, some others call it myths. 

Jakarta-born Rich Brian then became internet viral after his rap video. Not so long, 88 Rising, Asian-focused music agency based in America made a contract, let Brian join the team. Another Indonesian joining 88 Rising is Niki. Besides, we could look back to Agnez Mo who always dreams of International Career; that people usually compare considering they all make a career in America. We can't disagree that they gained success in the USA. This kind of success sometimes creates an illusion of hope. Indonesian Bekraf later made a competition in collaboration with 88 Rising to orbit new artists from Indonesia, and they got the talents. But, can us fully agree that it's a kind of hope? 

Kuntowijoyo's experiment novel pictures how Indonesian diaspora living in New York City live their lives, related to culture shock. The "I" in the novel take a role as an observer that telling 30 people's stories living their American Dreams. The 30 bodies in the novel are totally different persons having different background and passion. What's interesting about this novel is that the stories are told by unadorned Javanese person. We won't find a flowery high-level language style reading the novel but simple, straightforward.

Conflicts in the novel indeed various to each person, but if we read closely, actually there's one root of the conflicts the writer try to collate. It's all about cultural shock. Whether it's related to religious values, traditional practice, product, or person. Feminism, alcohol, marriage-divorce, work-ethic, politics, or life, they are being the background of every problem which is constantly driven into conflict. 

Interesting about the way the stories were told is that the observer didn't judge and participate too much in each other's business. The "I" will feel like an innocent guy, but somehow, wise. The positioning of the story-teller actually makes the stories feel truer, just like how a reporter wrote a piece of feature news about individual life. Even more, the simple sentences used in the stories easily get us to the imagination of each other's problem and how they purely conclude the problem.

This experiment novel is an effort, trying to place "newspaper literature" into a novel. It's an ethnographic work that describes how it's to be immigrants in so close perspective. Some who read the novel may feel that the illusion of the dreams turning more real, but me, I feel that the truer it is, the more nonsense the dream become. America is not everything, yet it can be one of the things. And a dream is about how we actually achieve it based on our passion, not myths.


Title: Impian Amerika 
Author: Kuntowijoyo 
Editor: Erwan Supriyono 
Publisher: DIVA Press, Yogyakarta
ISBN: 978-602-391-468-5
Year: 2017 
January 12, 2020