In a chaotic city, the latest in a line of viruses advances as a man recounts the fated steps that led him to be confined in a room with his lover while catastrophe looms. As he takes inventory of the city’s ills, a strange stone distorts reality, offering brief glimpses of the deserted territories of his memory.
Rodrigo Márquez Tizano’s debut novel...is a kaleidoscopic take on love and loss and longing, written in a voice that is sharp and cynical yet somehow without despair. ... a vivid piece of social satire, distraction rewired through the lens of oppression as a mechanism of control. That we recognize ourselves in it is entirely the point ... one of the pleasures of Jakarta is the way it continually upends our expectations
... one of those rare superb novels that are hard to get into but reward you for trying. Twenty pages into it, I was still confused about what I was reading ... a dense narrative that mixes science fiction, horror, adventure, and a touch of literary fiction into a story that never allows the reader to get comfortable ... is a bit disjointed at times, but it soon becomes evident that the incoherence is purposeful; it becomes a tool that allows Tizano to convey the atmosphere of the city and the narrator’s bizarre reality ... This sense of discomfort is perhaps Jakarta’s greatest accomplishment: it gets under your skin and stays there, making you uncomfortable about many little things, some of which you can’t immediately identify ... Besides the ever-present sense of anxiety, there are passages in which Tizano fully engages with various genres, which in the end make this novel one in which fans of a variety of genres will find something to enjoy ... Tizano manages to deliver creepy, gory images with great economy of language ... philosophical morsels enhance the storytelling and allow Tizano to flex a different set of writing muscles ... Any discussion of Jakarta would be incomplete with mentioning Thomas Bunstead’s outstanding translation. Given the amount of strange language used here, translating this book could not have been an easy task. Furthermore, this novel signals the arrival of a unique, important voice on the American literary landscape. Jakarta is an imaginary cultural narrative that can easily be seen as an exaggerated, fictionalized version of the truth ... Readers who have been craving a different take on the apocalypse would be remiss to skip this one.
Outraged and outrageous, disgusted and disgusting, every bit a miniature labyrinth in itself, Jakarta offers a way of seeing, over its 160 pages ... With the splattery verve of a horror writer, Tizano guides readers through his narrator's experience gathering diseased corpses and slaughtering rats...But Jakarta is horror-touched rather than horror itself, with beguiling short chapters--running from a few lines to a couple of pages, without paragraph breaks--and a mad variety of interests. One burst of prose might consider the history of infections over centuries, quoting fictitious journals from original European invaders, who let disease implement the hard work of conquest. The next might hilariously survey the fervor for a made-up team sport in Atlantika in the days before the final outbreak, or recall the nun whose geography lessons years ago inspired the narrator to fantasize about unknowable Jakarta. To show it all at once, Tizano dares readers to get a little lost.